Thursday, 1 September 2011

Keep up, Private Eye

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."


  1. Actually Emma has started "a" social enterprise. It's just not A4E.

    My love for the guardian overtook me there....

  2. Hi Historian - I wrote the Private Eye piece. What the Department for Education (who were handling inquires on this) told me was:-
    (1) WFE is not an A4E contract, no money goes to A4E or indeed to Harrison. the government are funding the three trial areas for "Working Families Everywhere" scheme covering the 500 families in the three areas. the money is being fed through Local Authorities, who oversee the scheme. Harrison seems to be directing and inspiring the scheme, but her role is a bit hazy.

    Beyond that, when it comes to the 120,000 families up and down the country, as far as I can tell the govt is going to try and persuade local authorities to follow the three funded pilot schemes from their "community budgets" - ie from the money that is already spent on Sure Start, Connexions and many other schemes - presumbaly based on the amazing success of the pilot areas.

    so it does seem like a kind of vanity scheme for Harrison rather than and A4E contract


  3. You're right. But look at this:
    This has been changed since it first appeared on the site. But there's more at:
    It is indeed a vanity scheme for Harrison but it's hardly unrelated to the contracts.
    When are you going to look at what else A4e does besides welfare-to-work?
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks v much Historian -not just vanity then ! I'll try and pick the non workfare stuff at a later point

  5. Well thank God that A4e IS being examined by Private Eye (which I buy regularly), Ch4 and the Guardian as well as this and other online portals.

    As I have often said, A4e is a large company that few outside the W2W sector will have heard of or be aware of what they actually do.

    Unless there is a scandal involving A4e (such as the signature falsification in Hull, 2009), most media outlets will not be intersted other than using A4e and other similar comapnies to justify thier villification of those out of work.

    I know the Eye did a thorough peice on the PFI (Private Finance Initiative)some time ago. It was a riveting and informative peice. Quite disturbing too. Perhaps they could do a similar peice on the WHOLE W2W sector. The'd be doing the whole country a massive service.

  6. I am just waiting for A4e to be working on burial and funerals. well they have the child centres, they are having youngsters, and adults, and now families. Just waiting for them to get involved in the elderly and death then they will have cradle to the grave. And no doubt making more money for them.


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