Emma Harrison made another appearance on the BBC today, this time on Pienaar's Politics on 5 Live. I haven't listened to it yet. Fortunately the Scottish Sunday Express has provided a summary of Harrison's views under the headline "PM warned over vulnerable families". She is described as "the woman appointed by David Cameron to get families back into work". And she's worried that the £26,000 benefits cap could harm some families with a number of seriously disabled children, families in which the parents are the full-time carers and which would cost the state millions without that parental care. Can't argue with that. And she's right that it's a "populist movement" (though I wouldn't use that phrase) that wants to cap benefits. However, it grates when she says, "I know families ...". We are always told that it's Harrison's personal knowledge of the unemployed which informs her opinions. And she seems to row back a bit at the end of the article:"Of course we should reform welfare. We should make it work for today. Somehow it has become possible for 120,000 families to live on benefits. Now within that group of families there might be a small percentage who will always have to live on benefits because of some very, very extreme circumstances."
If Harrison is going to use her position to challenge the government's more extreme moves, we can only applaud. But she will need to be armed with some genuine figures. And she will need to face some informed questioning about A4e's activities.
Perhaps I'll grit my teeth and listen to the programme tomorrow.
Monday: Harrison's remarks have made other newspapers, including the Financial Times, (which thinks her remarks will be a blow to David Cameron), the Mirror (which says that the "Jobs Tsar" has turned on the Tories) and a brief piece in the Scotsman.