From 2011: Private Eye on Emma Harrison and the Failures of A4E

I’ve posted up a number of articles from Private Eye recently detailing the failings of one of the government’s welfare-to-work providers, A4E, and the massive salary nonetheless enjoyed by its boss, Emma Harrison. Here’s another article about this from Private Eye for the 2nd – 15th September 2011.

Welfare to Work
A4E, B for Balls

No sooner had the last Eye published details of the mediocre inspection reports of “benefit-busting” company A4E than David Cameron announced that A4E’s boss, Emma Harrison, was central to his “fight-back after the riots.”

Arguing that the disorder was caused by family breakdown, Cameron said he had “asked Emma Harrison to develop a plan to help get these families on track” and was now putting “rocket boosters” under the scheme.

Emma Harrison’s company needs more than rocket boosters to get airborne. Out of 12 A4E job-finding schemes inspected by Ofsted, only two were found to be “good”; the rest were merely “satisfactory”. By comparison, Ofsted finds around half of schools to be “good” or even “outstanding”. According to the inspectors, A4E hasn’t been mostly “good” since 2008.

The worse news is that Harrison’s A4E is particularly bad at dealing with unemployed people with more complex problems: auditors described A4E’s involvement in Pathways to Work, a scheme to get people from incapacity benefit into employment as “universally poor”.

The only good news is that Cameron was wildly overstating Harrison’s role. In his post-riot speech, the PM referred to plans to help 120,000 families. Harrison’s programme called “working Families Everywhere”, which she personally manages, aims at finding jobs for just 50 parents in Blackpool, Hull and Westminster.

While the scale was exaggerated by Cameron, Harrison’s company did win more business last month – five contracts to deliver the “New Enterprise Allowance” for the jobless. The old Enterprise Allowance in the 1980s allowed unemployed people to keep receiving benefits while they set up small businesses. The Conservatives were keen on the scheme because it spread the “enterprise culture”. Lots of the new businesses didn’t make it but lots did, including Superdry Clothing and Viz magazine.

The old Enterprise Allowance was run by civil servants on the Manpower Services Commission. The new one is being “delivered” by private “partners”. Many of them are local chambers of commerce, which makes some sense. But the qualifications of benefit-busting companies such as A4E, or fellow contract winner Avanta, are harder to grasp: they deal with employment rather than self-employment, and their performance to date, as measure by inspection reportsd, is pisspoor.

This puts some of the controversy surrounding the British education system into perspective. Despite the government’s desperation to privatise schools, and the continuing stories of failing schools that have to be taken into special measures or over by a private scholastic company, most of the schools Ofsted inspects are ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. A4E, one of the government’s favoured outsourcing companies, by contrast, is responsible for poor service as judged by Ofsted’s inspectors.

The complaint that A4E cannot cope with the special requirements of the disabled has been blogged about many times, by Johnny Void, Mike, Jayne Linney, Glynis Millward and the DPAC people, to name only a few.

As for the replacement of the Enterprise Allowance, this seems to follow standard Tory malpractice. A reasonably effective scheme run by the state is privatised, and given to companies, who have absolutely no knowledge or experience of it. But it’s private, so obviously to those blinded by Hayekian hype, it has to be better.

It ain’t, and the failures continue. But as the Tories and private industry are making money out of it, they don’t care.

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2 Responses to “From 2011: Private Eye on Emma Harrison and the Failures of A4E”

  1. sdbast Says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN POLITICAL JOURNAL.

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