It's good to see that Private Eye is still on A4e's case in the latest edition. But I'm beginning to think that the magazine is following this blog! In a piece entitled "A4E, B for balls" they point out, following Cameron citing Emma Harrison as the answer to all our problems, that A4e's record is far from good. They cite the less-than-brilliant Ofsted reports and the dreadful Pathways results. But the Eye is slipping. They say that Cameron was "wildly overstating Harrison's role" in the Working Families Everywhere scheme, which aims to find jobs for just 500 parents in the three areas, rather than the 120,000 families that Cameron talked about. Like Cameron, the Eye isn't aware of the contracts on the table using ESF money. And they talk about the 5 new contracts A4e has just won to deliver the "New Enterprise Allowance", querying the qualifications of providers like A4e and Avanta to do this when their experience is in dealing with employment rather than self-employment. Well yes, but what about all the other things that A4e do, in health and education?
The Guardian got into trouble for calling A4e a "social enterprise" and had to apologise. But they've done it again, in a comment piece by Merrick Cockell on Tuesday. The vast majority of people don't know the difference, but those who do are concerned that the reality of A4e as a private, profit-making company is being eroded by the ignorance of journalists.
The Work Programme is getting a lot of attention at the moment, with Chris Grayling telling us how it's going to save the country. But there's a surprisingly sympathetic piece in the Sun about the difficulty facing women with children trying to get back into work. There's a rather different attitude in the Express. The newsfeeds this morning led to a piece headlined "Workshy Britain" and starting "Britain's workshy culture was shown in all its glory today after the number of homes where no one is working held at nearly 4 million." Strangely, by late afternoon the link led to a revised article headed "Four million households live just on benefits". The invective has been toned down considerably, although we still read that "The figures will serve to place added pressure on Employment minister Chris Grayling to get Britain's workshy back into employment."