Thursday, 18 October 2012

"Whipping girl of the welfare apologists"

That's the curious description of A4e's owner Emma Harrison in the headline to an interview in the Sunday Times last Sunday.  It's a neat way of insulting all of us.  And another curiosity is that this is described as Harrison's "first interview since the scandal", completely ignoring the interview she gave to the Daily Mail on 11 August.  There's nothing new in this one, except that the self-justification is stronger than ever.  "I was busy helping families get back to work," she says.  The history of Emma and her company follows, complete with tuck-shop incident, and then the account of how she thought of the "family champions".  Her initiative was the inspiration for the whole government programme.  But then, "Suddenly I'm put forward as the face of all evil".  The article goes on: "Harrison does not deny that there was wrongdoing at A4e, but she believes it was blown out of proportion by political point-scoring.  Those who wanted to attack the government's controversial welfare policies had a handy whipping girl."  On the money, that £8.6m, she's still "unrepentant", giving the same explanation of her entrepreneurship as she gave to the Mail.  She now spends her time working with her Foundation for Social Improvement, helping small charities.
Perhaps this is another attempt at rehabilitating Harrison's reputation.


  1. Oh,poor Emma,she is her own worse enemy.A4E did commit fraud,but not as much as people think(Kinda like being a little bit pregnant) and my £8.6 Million dividend was earned during this time,but I deserve it. Yesterday the PM touted the unemployment figures(as selective as they are) DWP wins an award for better data but the DWP/WP still cannot provide a report on the success/failure of the WP...Funny don't you think?

  2. This is simply a self pitying piece by MS Harrison. Ok, no-one should have their kids bullied at school.

    However, Ms Harrison has bought the whole sorry mess down upon her own head herself! Some of you may remember the email I conversation I had with Ms Harrison a couple of years ago. Historian was kind enough to reproduce it on this blog. What it showed was a clear dismissal and disregard for the concerns I had about they way I and others were treated at A4e several years ago.

    What Ms Harrison calls being "Whipping girl of the welfare apologists" and saying "Suddenly I'm put forward as the face of all evil" is simply down to her shameless self promotion and simplistic methodology backfiring. What she needs to understand (if she does not already) is that A4e has a terrible reputation.

    It is generally seen as THE unacceptable face of the W2W sector, which itself is not seen in the most positive terms. Ms Harrison needs to understand and this and take steps to address this major problem.

    Ms Harrison also needs to realise that with great power comes great responsibility. Yes, A4e WAS cleared of committing fraud. However, we can also say that payday loan companies such as Wonga are not committing any crimes either. This still does not allow them to escape widespread criticism.

    Has Ms Harrison EVER asked people who have had serious issues with her company WHY they feel the way they do? Just because a company is cleared of committing a crime and meets the minimum standards, does not mean it is a well run company! Ms Harrison as A4e’s founder, former chairwoman and now majority shareholder is responsible for A4e’s image, actions and level of service.

    As for this statement:

    “She had secured a single government contract and formed A4e on the strength of it. These days, the company employs 3,500 staff across the world...”

    This is half the problem! A4e is wholly reliant on government contracts! This creates a situation where there is no choice, little flexibility for clients and a gravy train for those able to bid for such contracts.

    Ms Harrison maintains that is was ‘communal living’ that got her through the darkest periods. That’s interesting. As it has been a community, albeit a virtual one, here and elsewhere that has gotten people through dealing with the likes of her company!

    Lastly, do I feel sympathy for Ms Harrison on the strength of the above piece. No. She must know by now the structural problems within her company. And yet she has done little if anything it seems to rectify them.


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