Wednesday, 7 September 2011


I am genuinely puzzled. Emma Harrison's stunt over Working Families Everywhere and family champions completely obscured the fact that contracts are coming out to provide such people with ESF money. And now Kent County Council are advertising for them in what they're calling a pilot until March 2013. The advert uses Harrison's slogans. But it also says that "there may be scope for an extension (after March 2013) depending on new funding becoming available". So when and where do these new DWP contracts apply? Since these people are currently employed by the councils, and would be TUPE'd over to the private contractors, there would seem to be nothing in it for Harrison except publicity; unless the volunteers she's trying to recruit are under her control, and that seems unlikely.

The website Children and Young People Now has tried to get some clarity from Harrison, but without much success. However, the piece does solve the puzzle of why Kent is joining in. Baroness Debbie Stedman-Scott is chief executive of charity Tomorrow's People and member of the Working Families Everywhere advisory board, and her group works in Maidstone, Kent. Helen Dent, chief executive of charity Family Action, repeats her scepticism about the whole scheme.
It would be useful if the journalists who are paid to research these things would sort it out. And pigs might fly.

There are times, just briefly, when I wonder whether I'm being unfair. Perhaps the bosses of A4e are genuinely more interested in helping people than in making money. Mark Lovell tweets: "Don't like profit motive - set up a social business and grow it globally. Compete, impact and force corporates and governments to change". And he's about to start an "Improving People's Lives" Fund. All very worthy. And unrecognisable to many of A4e's staff and clients. Another of his tweets is really interesting: "3,800 staff in our business - 63% female:male staffing ratio, higher outside UK. My 'boss' Emma and I have worked together for 20 yrs". Note the quotes around "boss". It has long been difficult to work out Harrison's real role in the company. There is a board of directors and a chief executive, so how much power does she have? Perhaps it's just useful to have her out there getting the publicity and cosying up to politicians while others get on with running the company.


  1. Interesting the comment "another of his tweets is really interesting: "3,800 staff in our business - 63% female:male staffing ratio, higher outside UK"

    when men are 49% of the population, you are looking at 14% more women than men in the organisation. I have noticed in my 2 times before a4e men are the minority of staff. but the majority of clients. If a4e wanted to be a non profit organisation and wants to help people, how can emma harrison justify £70 million plus personal fortune..from these contracts

  2. What these organisations tend to do is play the game of probability. You put 100 job seekers in one room looking for jobs then some of them are bound to find jobs after time spent job seeking. The people who do find jobs are over sensationalised by these organisations PR machines whilst the failed job seekers are left to complain on death ears.

  3. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip, Damo-Leeds, but I think you meant "deaf ears"!

  4. This is an interesting story, it may be a little old.. but it gets to the heart of these so called schemes.

    from the article

    "Charities said the government should question the logic of "compulsory CV writing training when there are no jobs to apply for". Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: "These findings are more evidence that the government's 'Big Government' approach, such as forcing parents to attend inappropriate courses as part of temporary pilots, can be wasteful, ineffective and may make matters worse. Ignoring claimants' own requests for appropriate skills training is particularly short-sighted and sanctioning claimants for failure to attend sometimes pointless training is penalising common sense."


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