Thursday, 15 December 2011

Emma Harrison and troubled families

Has Emma Harrison been shunted out of the picture in the "troubled families" scene? She was hailed as the solution to the problem of supposedly 120,000 of them after the riots, with her "Working Families Everywhere" scheme. Now Cameron is to announce £448m "to fund a national network of local authority teams charged with identifying 'chaotic families' and helping them address their problems." (Guardian) In charge of all this will be Louise Casey, with her "Troubled Familes Unit". The BBC nods to Harrison as the "family champion" but none of the other reports mention her.

With no real news from A4e (except that Roy Newey has been travelling - India and Latvia), it's the fact that 2.64 million are out of work that dominates the headlines. And still the government clings to the idea that the Work Programme will work some sort of magic. It's hard to see how. Many will go into "work placements" but most of those will not get real jobs. And what work there is, is often temporary. A young man recently appeared on a radio programme with Iain Duncan Smith in London, and said that despite his qualifications he could not get work. IDS promised to help him - and we learned today that he has indeed got a job and is thrilled to bits. But it's a temporary job, for the Christmas period.

A recent report showed that "just 20%" of those on the WP are being referred to the voluntary sector. That might just show that 80% don't need that specialist support. What we don't know is what is being done for that 80%. What actual skills training is happening?


  1. Yes, but what is the betting that people on work placements won't count on the jobless figures.

  2. So the best IDS could do was to get someone a temp job for Christmas?

    That's absolutely priceless.

  3. I'd like to think David Cameron has seen the light re Emma.

    However if you read "David Cameron's Speech On Troubled Families (FULL TEXT)" she still gets mentioned

  4. "Take the work of Emma Harrison, who has given us all inspiration in the last 12 months. She has shown that high aspirations for families is important - and that we shouldn’t write them off as unreachable or un-teachable. She has real ambition for these families and I know we can count on her to help drive this campaign forward in the future with us."
    Hmm. I wonder what that means.

  5. "That might just show that 80% don't need that specialist support. What we don't know is what is being done for that 80%. What actual skills training is happening?" I am one of those 80%, what training have i done.. Nothing, Unless you count the usual how to fill in an application form etc. There is nothing they can suggest I do for training. *I* suggested a pttls in computers, My advisor said oh that wont get you a job and anyway they run out after a year so i wont put you forward for it.

  6. It seems to me that the Summer riots are being used as some kind of catch-all or short hand to describe what is wrong with the 'worst' of society. Very, very convenient!

    It is odd that the Tories attacked New Labour for overspending. So where has this £448m come from? Is it new monies? Or is it recycled, taken from other areas?

    They (Tories) also blamed the previous govt for liking big govt too much. And yet, Cameron's govt is going to expand and intervene in the lives of those who are deemed not capable to sort themselves out.

    A lot of this of course comes down to shifting peoples thinking and language and how such language is used. We have had the use of the terms 'scrounger, workshy, feckless, worklessness, troubled / problem families, broken Britain' and so on. These negative labels emanate from right leaning think tanks, repeated by the govt and slavered over by the media. Not just the right wing tabloids, but also including even the BBC with programs titles such as 'Saints and Scroungers and the recent Panorama and Jon Humprys programs on the BBC.

    It's as if the govt has three basic phases. A la the lamentable Jeremy Kyle show, you stigmatise certain people, you then get them to admit they need help, and then you provide this 'help'.

    P.S. Just listened to the head of this scheme, Louise Casey. According to her, it seems that the cash will NOT be new money but will be taken from other areas. Interestingly, only 40% will come from central govt. The remaining 60% will come from local govt despite their budgets being cut.

  7. Aspiration is the problem. Why do you think kids went on the riot to steal tv's and trainers? Because consumer mad society has programmed them to want these things. They didn't loot Waterstones! The issue is these families can't meet their aspirations and aren't given the opportunity to aspire to something more worthwhile than a pair of trainers. That won't change in a society bent on 'managing expectations'. No wonder there's anger.

  8. I have to say that there ARE families which cause huge problems to their neighbours and to councils and cost us all a great deal of money. Lots of different agencies are involved with them, and it's a good idea (tried and tested in various areas already) to have a single person as the contact and co-ordinator. One little-noticed aspect of Cameron's scheme, however, is that local authorities will only get the money for "success" (how do you define that?). It's payment by results.

  9. Many taking part in the riots were opportunists ans copycatters. However, there were a number of underlying reasons WHY they spread like wildfire (no pun intended). The original disturbances in Tottenham started of course with the controversial shooting of Mark Duggan by the Met Police. What this govt has not tackled is why B'ham, Manchester, Bristol, Milton Keynes etc were also affected. And affected SO easily. Social networking and Blackberries were blamed of course. But this does not explain why social order broke down so readily. These riots were even more widespread than those of '81 and '87.

    Yes, there ARE individuals and families who are a pain in the **** to their neighbours. Historian has a point here. Thank God I live in an area where that is not an issue. However, they existed LONG before the August riots. Using the riots to justify this scheme is somewhat simplistic in my view.

    Was it not Theresa May who said that gangs were mostly responsible for the riots? Guess what? Research showed gang participation was minimal.

  10. My work programme experience, and I have been attending fortnightly interviews for nearly six months, is basically to just sign the Provider forms with no positive benefit for me. No training, apart from CV/letter writing (which I have attended numerous times in the past on the equally fake New Deal) just a stressed Work Coach trying to make it appear that it is all worthwhile. In reality I get the impression that she is just going through the motions.

  11. This areticle on a supposed 'Broken Britain' makes good reading. If I may be so bold as to recommend:

  12. How many times can someone over 50 redesign their condensed into 2 page CV when they have already worked nearly 35 years and then produce customised version for each job ?

    I would fire any company's HR recruitment officer who has only an attention span of 30secs or less to review someones CV.

    It appears that A4e focuses heavily on the god awful length of your CV. The next they tell you Body Language is a major part of the interview process. Well if you have been working for a long time you do know about body language and know how to fool the system. You dont need a so called expert to tell you how.

    Where is the real substance of the help A4e is meant to provide ? There is a big brother aspect of what A4e does as it logs every personal discussion you have with them and that can be seen by SOMEONE or ANYONE in Jobcentre Plus.Your behaviour and attitude is also noted and passed on.

    In a number of ways their Work Programme impinches on being almost compared to the electronic tagging systems that criminals have on house curfews as you are logged in and out of A4e (via a Jobcentre system)with possible santions attached for not conforming or attending. It places a terror/fear on folks with enough stress of living on £67 per week when prices are going up every day.

    I am not against coaching or help but this is not the way to achieve it. It does make me very mad when I hear that the boss of A4e makes so much money for doing appearing to do so much but in fact her company helps so few. I believe the John Lewis's principal that the boss only earns only 20 times the average lowest paid members of staff is good. If that applied across both private and public sector managements then I think we would not be it the mess we are just now.

  13. Well lets say I'm well trained, and 44. Been with A4E for 6 months now, no hint of a job offer, In my view they are keeping people on the books by putting them on pointless inhouse training, for example I was told I had to learn how to fill in an application form, I was gob smacked and insulted at the same time! So no doubt by the time I do find myself a job, A4E will jump up and say we helped him get this job and claim mega bucks, for doing what? insulting me!


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