Thursday, 9 December 2010

Think Tanks and Opportunities

A recent edition of Private Eye carried a piece about the "think tank" Demos, where former Work & Pensions secretary James Purnell now works. Demos, says the Eye, is funded by companies like A4e and PWC, which stand to benefit from the Work Programme. (The Demos website doesn't list its funders.) Another former minister with a new job is Jacqui Smith, who now advises Sarina Russo Job Access, an Australian company also bidding for Work Programme contracts. Now Ed West of the Telegraph points out that another influential think tank, the IPPR, is funded by a long list of taxpayer- funded bodies headed (alphabetically, at least) by A4e.

This week Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, announced new opportunities for the private sector, in "offender management". As usual, A4e is ahead of the game. They work with offenders in various parts of the country, including providing "employability focused qualifications to offenders carrying out their Community Payback orders in their local communities" in the North East.

And then there's Work Clubs. These are to be part of the Work programme, provided by the Jobcentres, for those who haven't been out of work very long. But A4e have already launched their own Work Clubs in the North East and Derbyshire. Is this a pre-emptive move to take the work away from the Jobcentres?

If anyone wants a handy guide to what A4e does, there's one here. Spot the mistake in, ironically, the "Education & Enterprise" section.

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