The press this morning shows its usual lack of understanding and research (with the honourable exception of the Guardian). The Mail says: "Aides said Mr Cameron would order ministers to help his family champion, social entrepreneur Emma Harrison, who was appointed last year. Her plans will see police, social workers and jobcentres work together." Somewhat inaccurate.
The Telegraph simply reports what Cameron said without comment.
Only the Guardian is sceptical, with three articles. The first draws attention to the fact that funding for various family intervention projects has been cut. This is interesting because most of us were not aware that such projects existed; Harrison gave the impression that she had invented the concept (and Cameron appeared to believe her). The authors understand the current situation: " While the government said it would make available £200m from the European Social Fund to help fund the target, the rest would come from the early intervention grant, which is to be cut by 11% by next year and has funding for Sure Start, teenage pregnancy and youth centres to meet. Labour said Sure Start had been cut by 20%. A government source acknowledged that using these resources to fund Cameron's target could vary. They said: "It is for local authorities and their partners, including the voluntary sector, to decide how much they wish to prioritise on families with multiple problems in their area." It's a pity that they don't pick up on the fact that this ESF money is going to private companies bidding for contracts.
The second piece (by different writers) looks at the history of family intervention projects and talks to Trevor Moores, the recently retired head of child services in Westminster council (one of Harrison's pilot areas). He said that the problems were more complex than Cameron and Harrison make out. The piece then quotes Rhian Beynon of the charity Family Action who, as we have noted before, is highly sceptical of Harriosn's simplistic approach, and Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family & Parenting Institute, who is similarly sceptical. Finally there's a brief cut-and-paste piece about Emma Harrison and the beginnings of her Working Families Everywhere programme. It says, "She will be paid by results and so aims to save the government money." This is confusing, but it highlights the confusion in Cameron's thinking. Harrison's scheme, and the ESF contracts she no doubt hopes to get, are about getting people into work, and this is the only criterion on which you could have "payment by results". As we noted yesterday, Cameron seems to equate "unemployed" with "anti-social".
Nobody has asked why WFE should be suucessful when A4e and other companies have already been paid many millions of pounds to get these people into work and failed.
It's all great publicity for Emma Harrison and A4e. But it will put them under greater scrutiny than ever before.