Sunday, 12 August 2012

Emma Harrison answers back

The Daily Mail was the loudest voice vilifying A4e's Emma Harrison.  Now they've secured an interview with her.  Read all of it.  Get past the hypocrisy of the Mail.  What are the facts?

A4e has been "cleared of any wrong doing".  But she has had a horrible time personally.  I'm sure that's true. But what about the £8.6 million that caused the furore?  What comes out clearly from the interview is that Harrison sees herself as an entrepreneur who has invested "tens of millions of pounds" of her own money in the business and is taking all the risk.  "This was not a dividend of one year, it was a result of 25 years of work," she says.  Er, not quite.  It was a dividend of one year.  The business generated £11m of profit in one year, and as the Mail points out it was "effectively taxpayers' money".  And the taxpayers can question how all that business was obtained and whether we got value for money.  The slogan is there; Harrison says, "My mission in life is to improve people's lives."  She has never seemed to recognise the disconnect between that ambition and the reality of the experience for so many of her clients and employees.

What now?  "I could have sold the company many times over.  I could be sitting with my feet up on some fancy yacht, but why would I?  That would be like selling my life."  She says she "now intends to concentrate on a range of new projects – including promoting women in business."

The Mail article isn't accepting comments - unsurprisingly.  But no doubt readers will want to make plenty of comments.


  1. She could have sold it, but that would mean she wouldn't have the constant income coming in. Since the welfare to work industry is growing by billions she probably wouldn't mind some of that.

    People who are apologists for a4e have said well she mortgaged her house.. (25 years ago) and that justifies the Millions she has made.

  2. Emma Harrison may be effective at public relations and minimising damage, but she is still wrong.

    The £8.6 million pounds dividend was for a single year, and she received it even though her company (which awarded the dividend) had failed to meet government targets.

    It was a £8.6 million of public money reward for failure.

  3. She'll be on Dragon's Den with her pile of money before the year is out.

  4. According to Channel 4 News, Emma Harrison was allegedly able to use a tax avoidance measure in order to save herself a tax bill of nearly £800,000 on the whopping dividend payment:

    The part-time, work-experience Chancellor has announced loftily that he considers it "morally repugnant" for people to use tax-avoidance measures of this sort, even though they are perfectly legitimate.

    What a shame that A4E does not look after the best interests of its customers with the same degree of skill & care that it devotes to the best interests of its main shareholder.

    A4E Ltd had no outstanding mortgages when I did a company search a couple of months ago via the Companies House Webcheck tool. If she is still taking "personal risk" then it must be secured against Thornbridge Hall. Anyone who might want to do so can soon have a look at the relevant documents for Thornbridge Hall via the HM Land Registry website:

    Back in February 2012, when Emma Harrison fell on her sword, she declared that her intention was to shut up from then on. So why is she suddenly courting publicity again?

    Even when she's got an old curtain wrapped round herself, exposing her belly button in a way that no self-respecting Indian lady would ever dream of doing, Emma Harrison does not resemble Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Mrs Harrison's various companies do not resemble Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.

    1. Why doesn't she shut up?

      She can't help herself; the woman's an egomaniac.

    2. Oh I spoke to Jonty OC, and he said she put her house up for remortgage after i challenged him on it he admitted she did it 25 years ago,, not today. Her own personal fortune is over £70 MILLION. So In effect he is justifying the Millions made by an event that happened years before and that she paid off (in her pre thornbridge house days)

  5. The problem we have here is Ms Harrison's refusal to see anything wrong with A4e's approach and indeed the whole W2W sector. She keeps spouting the "improving people's lives" mantra.

    But what about those who like me were offered a poor service by her company?

    The answer to this in part comes in the form of a response Ms Harrison gave to me a couple of years ago after I sent her a critical email. (The email was published on this very site I believe).Her response, whilst polite was dismissive and glossed over genuine concerns I and others had about A4e (very much like the Daily Mail interview). "Improving people's lives" and "passionate" were of course liberally.

    Of course she (Ms Harrison) has taken personal risks with A4e. That is what business men and business women do. However, one reason people were hacked off with Ms Harrison's £8.6 dividend payment is that A4e are not a vital part of the country's infrastructure. They take money from the state but offer little back esp. when one considers A4e's poor performances from not only the WP so far apparently, but also the ND and Flex ND. A4e do not manufacture anything. Nor are the services they offer critical to the national wealth or wellbeing.

    A few years ago, I was on a one day business course / seminar. The host said he enjoyed receiving complaints about his business as it allowed him to see where he was going wrong and how he could improve things. Okay, he was no doubt over-egging that bit. However, what Ms Harrison has to realise is that she was the public face of a company that many people actually hate with a 'passion' (see what I did there). One can only brush off complaints so long before current and ex clients and staff get together and pool resources to set up critical and questioning blogs, leave damning comments on various media sites and ask journalists to investigate.

    " Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons."

    More's the pity.

  6. Lets not ignore the £20Million which Emma Harrison charged A4E for the use oef her Family Mansion .

  7. The One True Elg12 August 2012 at 09:38

    She always manages to defend A4e even when it makes massive profits on now widely considered failed work programmes of the past, despite it's terrible performance on those programs.

    She's just defending her cash cow and why wouldn't she? Why would she ever be honest about how much A4e has benefited from abject failure?

    We always have to let people put across their side of the story but I wonder whether we're now wasting our time with this women, when we know exactly what she's going to say and we know exactly how little basis in reality her opinion really holds.

  8. "No abusive comments will be approved".

    Nothing left to say then.....

  9. Why should Emma Harrison profit from the unfortunate souls who find themselves unemployed ? Is she not just not profiteering from this recession ? Are there not laws which prevent this ? A4e put no effort into finding people jobs and get a lot of cash when under your own steam get a job ? They are more interested in ticking boxes for the DWP and the European Social Fund than actually trying to help you. They not interested in the substance of your CV just how long it is. You are signed up to the for two years and they can monitor your progress AFTER you get a job too (so they can tick the sustainable box for even more funding). They dont care about you but they do care about the money

  10. What now?  "I could have sold the company many times over.  I could be sitting with my feet up on some fancy yacht, but why would I?  That would be like selling my life."  She says she "now intends to concentrate on a range of new projects – including promoting women in business."

    That’s the whole point Emma. You have made so many out of the Tax Payers thus getting up the noses of so many poor people, and you rub it in by saying you could have retired and bought a yacht. Jeeps. How insensitive is that?

    Film/sports stars make loads of money but they give a lot of their earnings to charities big time. Do you?

    As fotr promoting Women In Business ..... Too late for me Emma. I asked for training and your company failed to respond. I wonder too iif you will succed in this so called “new idea” and whether you will deem success the way you have deemed success with a4e. more huge dividends underpinned by lack of reullts.

    Better you call it a day and attend some interior design courses to learn hoow to furnish your mansion properly! Far better for everyone!

  11. It's not so much about the lack of results for people (although that is appalling) it is the fact that ANY government contract can be given to ANY firm working for private interests.

    It does not improve standards, it gives entrepreneurs an easy way to skim money off their fellow citizens in adversity.

    Now if A4E had been a not-for profit enterprise and had competition from other not-for profits it could still attract talented individuals to work for the people it is set up to help - with a board of social entrepreneurs. People would still be accountable - no-one would get more than a good average wage for their position and no-one would make off in any year with £8.5million of people's money.The £8.5 million surplus could be shared for positive outcomes - of course - but also ploughed back in to finding new and innovative ways to serve the people they're set up for.


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".