Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Emma's tax; and Grayling's annoyance

Emma Harrison, A4's former chairman, seems to have become a classic example of the rich avoiding tax, at least according to Channel 4 News.  They point out that there was a lag between the introduction of the 50p tax rate and it coming into force, and this enabled Harrison and others to receive huge dividend payouts at the lower rate.  There's confusion in the article about how much that payout was; at one point they talk about £7m and at another £8.5m.  But they reckon that "because of the way dividend income is tax, this saved Emma Harrison £803,000 in tax on her share."  It was legitimate, of course.  The article is meant to show how any calculations about the take from the 50p rate are flawed.

Chris Grayling appeared in front of the Work and Pensions Select Committee yesterday.  The only account I can find is that on the BBC news site, and that may be the reason that it focusses on Grayling's annoyance with the BBC for what he perceives as its lazy reporting of the Work Experience fiasco.  "I think the Guardian newspaper got things wrong, but the BBC had more of a duty to get things right and I don't think it made an effort to do so. At the end of the day all of this created a situation where we could have lost something that was making a real difference to young people and I think that was reprehensible."  He particularly hated the use of the word "workfare" because, according to him, it isn't.  But he did acknowledge that the Work Programme will not work as well as they had hoped. "The hard reality is we won't get everyone into work. We won't be able to do something for everyone. We have to be realistic. Some people will be disappointed."


  1. I am an ordinary JSA claimant, aged 55, who is unemployed and so I have been referred to A4E for the Work Programme. A4E and Maximus are the two Work Programme Prime Contractors for the central south coast area where I live.

    The local A4E staff have shown me every courtesy and I have no criticism of any of them. However, they do admit that they are unable to do anything that would help me to find a job.

    Nonetheless, the local A4E staff have been trying - in the only way that A4E permits them to try. First, they tried to refer me to a subcontractor called Emplacement Solutions. Emplacement Solutions specialised in assisting job-seekers aged 50 over over according to the local A4E staff and the Emplacement Solutions website. Emplacement Solutions ceased trading the following week, before the date of my first appointment with them.

    Yesterday (21st March 2012) was the next date on which my A4E advisor could see me again. He said that there are no other local subcontactors who look after the over 50s and that A4E locally have not hired any of the staff from Emplacement Solutions.

    So he has come up with a new suggestion instead. Since I am a graduate, he has now suggested another cubcontractor called Ixion. Ixion's website suggests that they are actually only interested in young, recent graduates so whether they'll be interested in a middle aged one who has a degree that was worth bothering to get is anyone's guess!

    However I gathered that Ixion have been putting pressure on A4E because Ixion have not been receiving the number of referrals that they want/need/had been promised by A4E.

    I have agreed to this notion, even though it is probably even more of a long-shot than Emplacement Solutions, since A4E admit that they themselves cannot help me so I might just as well try one of their subcontractors instead.

    Apparently "the man" from Ixion will phone me, so I am now waiting for him to do so.

    It does not take genius to work out that the Work Programme scheme is not working in my own area, if it is working anywhere at all. Grayling has begun to admit that the Feb 2012 figures are disappointing.

    I have no sympathy for Ministers. They insisted on rushing into implementing the Work Programme scheme having done no proper studies and no proper trials beforehand. Their whole idea was predicated on the notion that there would be a strong recovery in the private sector that would lead to masses of new jobs for people of all age-ranges and all levels of qualification, skill and experience. That has not happened, shows no sign of happening and without it, the Work Programme is bound to become an embarrassing disaster for Ministers. The Australian Government was not stupid enough to try to instroduce the idea at the wrong point in the economic cycle, so it has been less of a disaster in Australia than it will be in the UK.

    I think that the companies like A4E will turn out to have been a ten-year flash in the pan. Some, like Emplacement Solutions, have already discovered that the Work Programme idea is not viable in the UK at the moment. Others will follow and eventually the big players like A4E are likely either to give it up voluntarily or to be forced to do so by their financial backers, I suggest. Ministers, having made such a fuss that the idea of the Work Programme is risk-free for the tax-payer, cannot risk being seen to give any more of tax-payers’ money to the companies like A4E, I suspect.

  2. If A4e are found to be guilty of systematic fraud then they and their shareholders need to recompensate the tax payer. Simply suspending their contracts is not enough.
    This whole debacle is an absolute scandal. Its certainly outweighs the banking and bankers bonus issue. All of this money is our money. It’s the tax payers money.

    1. "It certainly outweighs the banking and bankers bonus issue." er.... no, it doesn't.


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