Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Emma Harrison (A4E) Caught With Snout in Trough.

with 11 comments

Oh dear! Someone’s been championing her family a bit too fervently: (Full Story Today Here.)

David Cameron‘s senior adviser on troubled families has set up a firm to bid for work under a programme to get 120,000 households into work that she helped design, despite publicly saying that to make money from the scheme would be a “conflict of interest”, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

Emma Harrison, the multimillionaire founder of private welfare company A4e, was anointed the “families champion” last December. The prime minister singled her out in a key post-riot speech last month, saying she had “develop[ed] a plan to help get these families on track”.

But documents sent to private firms who did bid for the work reveal that Harrison’s company had set up in January a “partnership” called Families Unlimited, with a former civil servant who until this year was running the Department for Education’s “support services for families with multiple needs”, to pitch for the cash.

Families Unlimited offered to execute the work won by “prime contractors” for a fee. In blunt language, the documents say that “A4e will not bid as a prime contractor … due to a conflict of interest arising from the work of its founder and chairman, Emma Harrison, through the Working Families Everywhere initiative. However, DWP [the Department for Work and Pensions] have advised that no conflict arises where A4e is acting as a subcontractor.”


Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

Posted in a4e, Cuts, DWP, Government

Tagged with , ,

11 Responses

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  1. On this I wrote the following (on my Blog) on Saturday before the scandal:

    “The outsourcers dealing with the workless now represent a powerful lobby. They have begun to shape the policies of the system. The now wealthy Emma Harrison, of A4E, one of the most prominent companies in the unemployment business, is now the government’s Family Champion. She is tasked with sending a voluntary army of middle-class mentors to run the lives of problem families. ”

    How crudely true this was I certainly did not expect!

    Andrew Coates

    September 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

  2. Welfare benefits to be paid monthly, say ministers

    Many welfare benefits will be paid monthly in an effort to prepare people for the world of work, ministers said.

    Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants the new “all in one” Universal Credit to move away from a system of mainly fortnightly payments.

    The government has revealed the plans in a raft of extra detail about its shake-up of the benefits system.

    It comes as a Commons watchdog has questioned if the government’s £2.7bn welfare savings plan is achievable.

    The Welfare Reform Bill, currently passing through Parliament, introduces a Universal Payment to replace six income-related work-based benefits, such as child tax credit and income support.

    There will also be stricter rules for people losing their benefits if they refuse a job.

    A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said paying benefits every four weeks would help “smooth the transition into work”.

    “With 75% of people in work being paid monthly, ministers believe it is sensible that benefits are paid in the same manner,” said the spokesman.

    The bill has been criticised by some campaigners who believe vulnerable people could be made worse off, but the government insists its aim is to reduce benefit fraud.

    Even if approved, it is thought the changes – the most radical for 60 years – could take 10 years to fully come into effect.

    Meanwhile, the Commons spending watchdog has questioned whether the Department for Work and Pensions can make its planned £2.7bn of savings by 2015.

    The DWP, the government’s biggest spending department, plans to make 50% of savings by April 2012.

    ‘High risk’

    But the public accounts committee said it “lacks a clear plan” to make savings and is relying on a new IT system and “optimistic” assumptions.

    The DWP said it had a clear commitment to making the savings on time.

    All government departments, with the exception of health and international development, face four-year budget cuts as part of the government’s plans to tackle the UK’s budget deficit.

    In its report, the public accounts committee highlighted “high risk” areas in the DWP’s planned savings.

    It said the government’s flagship plan to replace six income-related work-based benefits with one “universal credit” from 2013 is dependent on a new IT system linked to HM Revenue and Customs which was being delivered to a “very tight timetable”.

    “This committee’s experience is that such projects are rarely delivered to time, budget and specification, and any delays could put the department’s ability to deliver savings at risk,” said committee chairman Margaret Hodge.

    She added that they were also concerned about the “optimistic assumption” by the DWP that, in future, 80% of people using JobCentre Plus would deal with their claims online – although the percentage was currently only 17%.

    Any delay in either area was “likely to impact on planned cost reductions”, the report said.

    Mrs Hodge said the DWP should “assess the main risks” to making the savings and “develop sufficient contingencies”.

    The DWP said it would respond formally “in due course” but a spokesman said they had a “clear” commitment to making the savings.

    He added: “We’ve already exceeded the target set in the June 2010 Budget to reduce our running costs by £535m in 2010-11 and we have a transformation programme in place to make sustainable cost reductions over the rest of this Parliament.

    “We’ve learned from our experiences in the past in delivering IT services and Universal Credit will be delivered on time in 2013.”



    September 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

    • IDS wants tougher rules (hard to imagine what could be tougher than complete removal of benefits) for peopel that refuse a job.

      but how many of those that get sanctioned are punished for that reason – as opposed to mistakes (including dwp error), and trivial matters such as turning up for an appointment a few minutes late.


      September 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

      • Are you having a laugh?

        Probably 8% of sanctionable offences (the number of such; not the percentage of cases) is for refusing a job.

        The rest include refusing, failing or not participating in an employment programme, being late or failing to attend signing on appointment or other appointment, missing an appointment at a provider, and misc options disguised under another.

        Work Programme

        September 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  3. Can you imagine what a potential disaster this could be as they try to merge several existing computer systems, from different government departments and councils to collate the records of millions of claimants for the Universal Credit.

    ECAP 17

    September 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

  4. I like your video -very apt.


    September 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm

  5. “There will also be stricter rules for people losing their benefits if they refuse a job.”

    I keep hearing this phrase from politicians, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has actually turned down a job offer. They keep banging on about benefit scroungers turning down jobs, but surely if someone doesn’t want to work, they are just going to make sure they are not offered a job in the first place?

    I’m not sure who these comments are supposed to be aimed at.

    Average Joe

    September 14, 2011 at 8:43 am

    • I could not agree more.

      No-one has offered me a job.

      I have sent out loads of applications and the idea that I would refuse to take an offer up just does not occur to me.

      Andrew Coates

      September 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

    • Avergae Joe: They’re trying to divert attention away from their own failed economic policies by demonising the unemployed as scroungers.

      This country is finished thanks to the incompetent politicians and the financial terrorists – the bankers!

      ECAP 17

      September 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

  6. Amazes me how A4e with their proven incompetence and dishonesty keep garnering those lucrative contracts (via especially set up companies in this case) when this thread from rightsnet shows that their staff, not only don’t know the rules but argue with welfare rights advisors who do know the rules…

    Scroll down to the comment by Tony Pickering about the A4e workshop.

    Looks like it won’t matter whether you get dumped on JSA or ESA in future, all “work related activity” and “jobseeking” will have merged into one catagory



    September 17, 2011 at 9:32 am

  7. Congratulations all of this rare event that happens once in a hundred years!


    November 11, 2011 at 1:28 am

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