They have every right to make such a submission, of course. They stress their vast experience in this area and say that they are "currently helping over 20,000 individuals under the age of 25 enter employment." And it's not just in employment. "We partner with the public, private and voluntary sectors to develop innovative and efficient solutions to the most complex social problems; from entrenched, inter-generational worklessness to poor health in deprived communities. This work brings us into contact with people across the UK who we help to navigate public services, and ensure that they get the support and help they need to help themselves. We therefore have a unique perspective on the ways in which services are delivered."Yes, okay, we'll skip the obvious objections. Have they got anything worthwhile to say on the subject of the "Youth Contract"? Well, they point out that it's not clear how the delivery of the programme is supposed to work and who is responsible for it. And that, by the way, is a question that was raised when this scheme was announced. If young people are guaranteed placements or subsidised jobs, why should WP providers get outcome payments? But A4e is clear that it should be WP providers who do it and profit from it under payment by results. And the ERSS framework, that list of approved prime contractors, should be flexible and allow new entrants. They point to the need for better skills training for young people and cite A4e's Vox centres as the way to do it.
One interesting point in their submission is the risk of "deadweight costs"; that the wage subsidy will go to employers who would have employed these young people anyway.
What we see in this submission, as in others they have made to government, is a mixture of sensible observations and concern to expand their own business. If other contractors have made similar submissions, they will have done the same. What should concern us is not this very obvious lobbying, but the less obvious kind going on behind the scenes.