But this blog is supposed to be about A4e. So what has all this meant for them? Their results were not outstandingly bad or good, so they weren't singled out. Channel 4 News were able to resurrect that Emma Harrison interview to show how wrong she was. And A4e could really have done without that. After the crisis of February, when she had to step down from her government post and from the chairmanship of A4e, George Bridges of Quiller Consultants was called in to use his connections to get the company through the mess. Harrison's appearance will surely have set back those efforts. But more important in the long run is that the company itself cannot hide behind platitudes. The failure of the Work Programme puts it under scrutiny. Andrew Dutton writes: ".... our current performance is materially better than the first year data shows". Like all the other providers, the claim is that more outcomes are in the pipeline and will show up in the next release of data. But that was always going to be the case. He adds that "A4e has invested £50m in the past 18 months into our services, people and offices." This is what Harrison said was her own money. However, other providers claim to have broken even in the first year of the WP, so we can assume that that investment has been recouped. They have a curious set of graphics on their website. The figures include a claim that they saved the taxpayer £24m in benefits paid to people who now have jobs. They do not indicate whether this figure takes account of in-work benefits which people still have to claim. And does it take into account the amount the government has paid A4e? Anyway, figures like these mean little; it's the experience people have of the company, and its performance in doing the work it's contracted to do which count.
Thursday, 29 November 2012
The dust has settled on the Work Programme publicity. Amazingly, the spin failed and the right information got the headlines. The government had delayed as long as it dared so that it could put out 14 months of figures rather than 12. The 12-month outcome figure was around 2%. But even the 14-month figure came out well below the dead-weight figure. Who would have guessed that the media would actually be talking about the dead-weight figure?