There's an interesting report in the Financial Times today about developments in the Work Programme. Ingeus Deloitte, the company which originated in Australia, has been sold to an American company, Providence Service Corporation. The Work Programme business, says the FT, is worth £150m a year to Ingeus, "which is understood to have won such a large share of the market by bidding more cheaply than rivals". Despite the failure of the WP to help the vast majority of those referred to it, there are obviously profits to be made. And Provident can simply take over Ingeus's activities by bidding for the offender rehabilitation contracts (and anything else on offer).
The other interesting point in the article is that the Work Programme contracts are due to end next year, but they are expected to be extended to 2016 "to avoid the general election". (Labour has already said that they wouldn't renew the contracts if they get into power.) By this stage the "attachment" payments should have ended; would we be told if they haven't? The contracts didn't seem to be generating much profit for the providers, but Provident obviously thinks that the potential is there. Richard Johnson, formerly of Serco, says that can only come from cutting costs, but it's hard to know how companies like A4e can cut costs any further.
It makes me wonder, again, whether A4e is in line for a buy-out. Would Emma Harrison be prepared to sell her 85% stake in the company?