A growing part of A4e's business are the Vox centres, which give skills training to children and young people who have been excluded from schools. Emma is opening the 10th such centre today, at Sheffield Wednesday football club. She seems to think that it's "a fascinating new model"; the private company stands the cost of setting up the institution and the local authority buys places in it. It is not new at all. Private companies running special schools, for instance, operate on exactly the same model. It doesn't look as if any of these centres have been inspected by Ofsted yet. Emma says she's not concerned about public sector cuts, and she may well be justified.
One company which has decided that the Work Programme is too big a risk is Sarina Russo, an Australian outfit. Despite being put on the framework they've announced that they are not going to bid for any of the contracts as prime contractor. They say that they support the payment model, but they only want to be sub-contractors. That's going to leave only a handful of companies, like A4e and Serco, which are willing to take the financial risk.
Ex-A4e employee Hayley Taylor who, in a few short months, rose to "international careers expert" has had a meeting with Chris Grayling. She says, "it was good to hear that the issues the unemployed face are being addressed, although it remains to be seen what the outcome will be." One wonders whether Grayling is meeting any of the unemployed.