Saturday, 12 September 2009

Why it matters

It's noticeable that when I post something about an A4e activity that isn't welfare-to-work, there's little reaction and hardly any comment. Most of those who get exercised about A4e have been clients or staff in the New Deal and related programmes, and that's where the media interest has been. But its other activities are just as important, and add up to a cradle-to-grave approach that should concern all of us.

Last month the Telegraph published a piece on another company, Serco: "Have you heard about the company that runs Britain?" It lists the range of contracts that Serco are making money from, but misses out the latest, the FND contracts. Serco are trying to drive A4e out of that area. A4e doesn't have the range of contracts that Serco has, but its portfolio is growing, and is concentrated in those areas which deal directly with disadvantaged people. Bosses talk about wanting to "work with" whole families, and that's what is happening. The Mansfield project has A4e dealing with very young children who are not able to deal with starting school; around the country it works with schoolchildren in various ways, often because they are disaffected. If your children manage to avoid them, A4e may still enter your life if you are unemployed; need advice; get a prison sentence; need training. And you may not avoid them when you retire. If you need social care, they may be there too, handling your direct payments. We haven't heard anything lately about Emma's ambition to run a bank for poor people, but I expect it's still on the table. A4e have always been ahead of the game, picking up small contracts and then portraying themselves as the market leaders. They may be well behind Serco in income, but they can affect your life just as much.

So it matters.


  1. it is big brother statism. If you look at it, all these private companies have strong governmental links, and this link will grow stronger, until these groups are just an arm of the state apparatus. Then they will become the state.

    add to that the powers of the state, owning banks, monitoring us by camera's, i am afraid these companies will have more power.

    Cradle to grave statism..scary

  2. Having grown up in Mansfield Woodhouse 1962-1983 I don't really like to be reminded of Mansfield's existence, which is why I didn't comment.{:-)

    The government is happy to commercialise its relationship with the public because this goes a long way to repairing its fiscal base. Putting commercial speculators in charge of former government and local government services has the effect of making them more expensive and less valuable to the official 'clients' (unlike the real ones, management and government, they're on a nice little earner). None of this counts as government spending thanks to the PFI so the govt can claim low taxes because many of them have been turned into commercal 'fees' and 'charges' rather than being genuinely cut.

  3. This is part of what Tony Blair called his "third way" I guess. His idea of PPP or Private Public Partnership as evidenced by the number of suspect PFI deals and of course the notorious New / Flex New Deal.

    The author is absolutely correct. Companies such as A4e, Serco and the rest are vampires, bloodsuckers feasting on the blood that is taxpayers money. Mercurior is right. These companies remind by of OCP from the ROBOCOP films where they say "good business is where you find it".

    For example even have a mad situation where the RAF needing new aerial refuelling tanker / transport aircraft have gone down the PFI road to acquire these planes rather than buy them outright. The PFI deal run by a company called Airtanker is over 27 years and provides servicing to the aircraft. Presumably, RAF technicians trained at taxpayers expense will be cut out of the loop - or will they have to re-apply with their jobs to work for Airtanker? One idea is to also lend to planes to "third parties" when not in use by the RAF. Highly unlikely!

    We see such deals permeating throughout the NHS and education. Any changes, improvements, repairs and modifications to a PFI school or hospital has to be done via the PFI company - even though a lower cost local alternative is available!

    A4e and its ilk are very dangerous. Not just because they offer poor value - we all know that. It's also because they try to over reach themselves and get involved in social matters whether they have expertise in that field or not.

  4. i wonder how many companies will have, directors "earning" a salary, who are ex ministers.

    Once the corporations are in control, they will no doubt bring the accountants in, and tell people what they are worth, if the expenses are more than a person is worth.. then no treatment, nothing.

    Corporations, are there to make profit as imatt says once we are on the books of these companies then we are commodities and thats the really scary part.

  5. It a huge scandal - lets take two possible scenarios:

    1) The ex-minister receiving the job as part of a pre-planned highly secret deal... the minister gets company a contract(s), the company then guarantees the minister money after their term in office: this is obvious corruption.

    2) The company hires the ex-minister, not because the minister help secured them a contract, this might not be the case... but because the minister knows secrets (which if not in government would be known as a "trade secret") and inside procedure to help the company gain contracts longer term: this is also dodgy.

    It should be outlawed.

  6. Serco are a FTSE 100 company, with a lot of financial clout. They might be new to the world of welfare to work government contracts but I suspect they will prove to be a thorn in the side of A4e


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