Friday, 2 March 2012

A flash in the pan?

The graph shows how the hits on this blog rose from the end of January, took off, soared and then gently settled down as the fall-out from the Public Accounts Committee meeting hit the headlines.  But the fuss dies down.  A4e and Emma Harrison are out of the news, and attention wanders away to other matters.  I'm sure that MPs Margaret Hodge and Fiona Mactaggart are still collecting stories, but they can't force an enquiry.  The government would just like to drop it now, and Labour, having garnered a bit of publicity for Liam Byrne, don't want to press too hard, because A4e's success is their responsibility.  Journalists are, no doubt, still collecting material, but they will drop the subject if it seems to be going stale.  You'll hear no more from the BBC.  Something worrying happened with the BBC, and we must be aware of it.  Emma Harrison had moved from being the owner of a business to being a celebrity.  There was a marked reluctance even to report the story, as if someone was ordering hands off.  It's unlikely that Harrison is the only person to have struck up a relationship with the Corporation which inhibits proper scrutiny.  But it means that people who had no particular interest in this subject are still almost completely unaware of what has happened. 
The Financial Times has kept on the case, reporting that DWP officials "told Number 10 that giving Ms Harrison a role advising the government on finding jobs for troubled families might cause ethical problems, given her company’s role as one of the main providers of the government’s £5bn back-to-work scheme."  But they didn't tell no. 10, because they couldn't see any reason to, that fraud investigations had been carried out into A4e.  They didn't see them as evidence of "systemic" fraud.  There is some minor fall-out around A4e's other contracts.  A4e has the contract to deliver "face-to-face" money advice, and the Money Advice Service has had to state that the current row has no bearing on this contract.  Glyndwr University, which had arranged to validate courses for A4e, has now said that it will keep the situation "under continual review". 
A4e has published (not necessarily deliberately?) its performance data for the Work Programme so far.  It's broken down by "partner" and difficult to analyse, but seems to show that on outcomes - sustained jobs so far - one organisation leads the pack.  It's too early to make much of this.  In the Autumn the DWP will have to publish figures across all the contracts.  Remember that the plan was to penalise the worst-performing provider in each area, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was dropped.
Emma Harrison has disappeared from Twitter, but Mark Lovell is still there (although he hasn't posted since 18 February).  
Has it been a flash in the pan?  Probably.  


  1. Have there been any sightings of dear Emma then? Maybe her head is deep down compiling her CV. I wonder she will list her time with a4e as an achievement .....

    On the other hand maybe she's off on a well deserved (?) holiday.

    Don't forget everyone that Margaret Hodge will be on the panel of Any Questions Radio 4 tonight at 8 pm which is also repeated tomorrow at 1.10 pm. That should be very interesting .....

  2. Just what is the work programme for? im on it now have been for the last month, all i do is go in sit down my "advisor" does a jobsearch, then mandates me to come in and do another two hour jobsearch on a seperate day! if i want to use a computer my local libray as lots that actually work! and many have computers at home now also the cost of broadband is quite cheap nowadys, so wehy be forced into these god awfull places like A4E, BEST, INGEUS etc? i feel all i am to my advisor is a potential bonus payment! should i be found a job.

    1. Anon at 02;28
      I know how you feel. I've just had a phone call inviting me to a job interview on Monday. Sure,it is NOT a job-offer but at least I have made it onto the employer's shortlist!

      A4E had nothing to do with it, though. So why let them pocket any loot from it if I get the job?

  3. What's the position regarding putting people onto work placements without the client (ie jobseaker) signing some for of writen consent?

    Last year I was removed from JSA, placed on a work placement and training allowence but never signed any paperwork during the whole process. Is this legal?

  4. I hope your interveiw works out for you.

  5. Article 23. From the human rights act.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests


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