Founded in 1991, A4e has an annual turnover of more than £200m, funded entirely from the public purse. It is the largest provider of the government's welfare-to-work programme.
A4e used to describe itself as a "a social purpose company with one sole aim: to improve people's lives around the world" – until the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that this gave the false impression it was not-for-profit.
Founder Emma Harrison certainly improved her own life, paying herself £8.6m in dividends in 2011 and becoming David Cameron's families champion. But a series of fraud allegations against the company forced her to step down as both A4e chairman and government tsar in February 2012.
The allegations prompted the Department for Work and Pensions to cancel one A4e contract, but the company continues to win government work. Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge said: "I find it astounding that, at a time when one government department is investigating a company for systemic failures, another department is awarding the same company new contracts. You couldn't make it up."
A4e is nominated for:
Multiple allegations of fraud, some still under investigation.
(Source: Daily Mail 19/2/12, DWP 9/3/12, BBC 23/3/12, Daily Mail 8/3/12, Independent 28/9/12)
Paying boss Emma Harrison £8.6m of taxpayers' money in 2011.
(Source: Daily Mail 10/2/12, Guardian 25/2/12)
Losing personal data for 24,000 people, stored unencrypted on a company laptop.
(Source: BBC News 24/11/10)
Allegations of a champagne culture and lavish trips on expenses.
(Source: Guardian 6/3/12)
Demanding benefit cuts for 10,000 jobseekers it was contracted to help. (7,000 of those requests were rejected.)
(Source: Guardian 3/7/12, Corporate Watch 1/7/12)
Forcing jobseekers to work unpaid in A4e offices.
(Source: Telegraph 23/2/12)
Treating small charities and social enterprises as bid candy to win contracts.
(Source: Guardian 19/7/12)
Getting just 3.5% of referrals into long term jobs – below the minimum target set by the DWP.
(Source: Channel 4 News 28/6/12)