Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A new government - the implications

As a coalition government forms and the cabinet appointments are announced, contractors like A4e may well feel both apprehensive and hopeful. Michael Gove is education secretary, so there's going to be scope for the private sector in schools. Theresa May is not, as we expected, Work & Pensions secretary; that job has apparently gone to Ian Duncan Smith. What that will mean for the Work Programme is anyone's guess at the moment. But IDS does understand the benefits system and, more importantly, its effects on real people, and he will probably stand up to the private sector.
Benefits claimants should be worried but not, I think, frightened. The worst Tory attitudes should be tempered by their coalition partners.


  1. The Teflon Don12 May 2010 at 07:33

    I'm also hopeful that the Lib Dems will temper the worst Tory excesses to bash the unemploymed even more than New Labour. As you say, IDS does have a better understanding of the benefits system, and dare I say the "underclass" too

  2. Having had opportunity to examine some of the A4e publications, I find the grammar and punctuation to be atrocious. Regularly reprimand my supposed adviser for his poor spelling... All I can say, if A4e moves in to education, standards will fall through the floor.

  3. I wish I could share the optimism.

    IDS wrote a load of papers for the Centre for Social Justice (a Tory think tank) which make it quite clear that he believes in shifting more DWP stuff out into the private sector, while requiring claimants to give more in exchange for their benefits.


  4. coalition partners?

    hardly equal.

  5. I agree with you - there's not going to be any pulling back from the private sector. My only cause for (very slight) optimism is that IDS does have some insight into the lives of real poor people; and I don't think there'll be moves to deny benefits after a fixed period because the Lib Dems wouldn't allow it. I hope I'm right.

  6. There's a black hole to the tune of 170 billion in public sector finances. The Gold Rush days are over for A4e.

    The contracts won't be as profitable as they used to, and the terms will be stricter.

    There's going to be huge belt tighteneing in the coming months and years. You've seen the riots in Greece. It won't just be Greece.

  7. If the talk about stricter monitoring and payment by results is followed through, then it will be difficult for a4e and the other providers.

    I think a4e knew that uncertain times were coming - hence the profile-raising publicity blitzkrieg of the last year.

    Gove's letting Carol bloody Vorderman write the schools maths curriculum, so how long before we see Emma Harrison in some kind of policy-making role?

    As for IDS - Cameron parachuted him in to appease the Tory right, and he needs to be seen to have some policy successes. So I doubt the Lib Dems will be allowed to make waves. They'll be saving their bargaining chips for issues like Europe and electoral reform, anyway.

    But yes, let's wait and see before we all go out and put our heads on the train tracks.

  8. An anonymous reader left a comment which I won't publish in full because it's pretty close to being abusive. But it does ask, "Why are providers not made to be non profit making?" The answer to that, of course, is that you can keep services in the public sector i.e non-profit making, or you can contract them out to organisations which exist to make a profit. Successive governments have chosen to do the latter, and there doesn't seem to be any way back from that at the moment. The reader also went on to say that s/he is at A4e a client of the moment and was not happy (I paraphrase).


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