WALTHAM FOREST: Further concern over help for jobless
EVIDENCE has emerged of ongoing failures to tackle unemployment in Waltham Forest.
Research has shown that companies hired to provide services under the flagship Worknet program fell well short of targets, often helping only a fraction of the people they had pledged to.
But the organisations often blamed the council for failing to provide adequate support for schemes and questions have arisen over the authority's handling of Worknet.
Failed charity O-Regen, which had close ties to the authority, broke promises to tackle long-term joblessness before going into financial meltdown last year.
It later emerged that despite previous poor performance, the charity was awarded a contract worth more then £1 million even though it had publishing figures showing it was posting large losses.
Another provider, Kennedy Scott also fell well short of targets on two contracts worth more than £3 million.
Now it has emerged that Reed in Partnership, which is the sole remaining Worknet deliverer, failed to meet any of its delivery targets in the first six months of operation, up to June this year.
The council is now said to be withholding information on the delivery of the latest figures, citing commercial interests.
The Worknet program involved contracts worth about £9million in total.
But some of the companies received just a small portion of the contracts' value due to poor performance.
For example, O-Regen was only paid £100,000 for a contract worth more than £1.1 million.
Overall the council raised £4.2 million for Worknet projects, but ended up not claiming nearly half of that from external funders.
It also fed more than 1.5 million into its own reserves and general fund, which can be spent on anything.
A report entitled Rocket Science, published in 2010, said providers were often critical of the way Worknet was organised and felt "disconnected from decision-makers".
Research carried out by Nick Tiratsoo, of Odessa Road, Leytonstone, has exposed the long-term failure to tackle unemployment in Waltham Forest.
He said: "The more we learn about Worknet, the worse it looks. Outside companies are hired on expensive contracts to deliver, but don’t.
"Nobody seems to care. If it is also true that the council has actually benefited from this farrago, by being able to pass unspent money from Worknet funders back into its reserves, that plumbs new depths.
"I believe that all those councillors who have had responsibility for Worknet should resign."
The council declined to comment.