First, let's clear away another bit of "semantics". He refers several times to their "customers". This is inaccurate and thoroughly misleading. As with all such contractors, the customer is the body buying the service, whether that is central government or a local council. Ultimately, of course, that means the tax-payer.
And then, a bit of background on Mr Olliff-Cooper. I can't do better than the Daily Mail back in February which showed his "top-drawer Conservative Party contacts".
So, to engage with what he says. He believes that there is "fuzziness" in our thinking now. The previous clear distinctions between public sector, private sector and charities no longer apply, because lots of other types of organisations have grown up in the gaps. He refers, not very wittily, to the "blurred sector". This is manifestly true. A great many charities now exist solely on government contracts, often doing things vastly different from what they were set up to do. They still, however, have to plough profits back into the work of the organisation. We now have "social enterprises", which can take many forms (Wikipedia has a good article on this) but which are defined by not offering any benefit to their investors. Cooper wants to say that A4e fits neatly into the mix because it "attempts to tackle poverty not through corporate social responsibility but through its core business". He insists that they combine profit and social values and that "A4e's success has been good for our customers, good for taxpayers and good for the economy".
And that's where his argument starts to fall apart. A4e has undoubtedly been good for large numbers of individual clients. But it has failed many more. And it has certainly not been good for taxpayers, having consistently failed to meet its targets whilst sucking up so much profit that it could pay out £11m in dividends last year. Any company can call itself a "social purpose company" and few would deny that they have "social values" (even those whose businesses are clearly anti-social). A long cooment under the article is by someone claiming to run a "profit-for-purpose" company. It's meaningless. And there is now, perhaps more than ever, a need to recognise that if government or councils choose to contract with private companies, this is a business arrangement. The company is paid to deliver a service. No amount of pretentious waffle should obscure that.