Thursday, 26 May 2011


"More joined up services"; "link broader support services together"; "must become better integrated"; these are phrases from Mark Lovell's latest contribution to "Addressing the wider impact of debt", an article on Debt Management Today. He is pursuing A4e's goal of super-contracts, whereby the company would be the gateway to all services for the impoverished. "Access to these 'holistic' services," he writes, "should be through a unified, personalised view of the customer." He quotes a survey they did three years ago among their debt advice customers which produced results, which are blindingly obvious, about the personal implications of debt, and uses these to support the thesis.

It must be stressed again that any such bundling of services under one private company should be resisted strongly. People in trouble need access to impartial, expert help and advice, provided by the public sector or by not-for-profit organisations. They need to be able to find alternative sources of help if necessary, not be at the mercy of one person from a private company, and they need to be sure that no one has any financial stake in their fate.
In pursuit of the same goal Emma Harrison has got the Times interested in her Working Families Everywhere efforts. The paper will be following the "stories" of three long-term unemployed people she is mentoring. Now, the Times online is behind a paywall, and I have no intention of buying copies just to read this guff, so I'd be interested if anyone does see it.

I know that there are lots of people, organisations and websites out there which are (justifiably) very exercised about welfare-to-work. I wish some of them would look beyond this to the wider picture.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Thanks to a posting on Twitter (no, nothing to do with a certain footballer) I see that A4e are seeking contracts from the Ministry of Justice, and were advertising for a Bid Director in that sector. The company brags that their turnover is nearly £200m "and we plan to double that". As is usual with A4e, no salary is given, but they want you to have experience in the criminal justice services sector. Don't rush to apply. The closing date was yesterday.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Two bits of news

Two small news items including A4e.

The first is a piece in the Sheffield Star about the city's most profitable companies. A4e has moved from 12th place to 4th, it's profits having increased from £5.6m to £9.9m.

The second is a report on the BBC's news website about the young unemployed. It cites A4e's Vox Centre in Brixton (which the piece calls its "flagship centre") which trains youngsters in vocational skills for "entry-level" jobs. Since opening last June they haven't had any success in getting these youngsters into work.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Business Opportunities

Blogger was read-only for a while and my last post was deleted, so here it is again:
A4's Mark Lovell has been talking to Citibank in pursuit of his banking ambitions, and is now looking at opportunities for business in higher education. Roy Newey is pursuing business in India and Pakistan, helped by the British taxpayer via UKTI. Emma Harrison was, a week ago, holding a meeting of family champions in London. The three pilot areas, you remember, were Hull, Blackpool and Westminster; but while Blackpool has advertised for 5 such champions, neither Hull nor Westminster have anything at all on their websites about it. Yet Harrison says that the meeting was of "the newly appointed and yet to be appointed Family Champions from Hull, Blackpool and Westminster", and claims that the local authorities are committed. Strange that they haven't told their residents.

Just a note about comments. From time to time I get comments from current or former A4e staff which are very critical of the company. I don't publish them, for various reasons, including the fact that Blogger doesn't allow me to edit them. But I do save them, so keep them coming. I'll do a digest at some point.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A4e Community Managers

A fascinating job advert has appeared on the Third Sector website for A4e Community Managers. The job spec is very detailed and gives a clear picture of how A4e intends to get people onto their Work Programme. They are looking for voluntary referrals "by implementing a strategic community engagement strategy". The emphasis is on marketing the programme directly to residents of an area and through local voluntary and other organisations, and the Jobcentres. This is in reaction to the fact that A4e is in competition with other providers in their five areas and so has to go out and persuade all those concerned that A4e is the best. "To be considered for this role you must be able to demonstrate A4e’s ‘DNA’ – Trusted, Passionate, Driven, Brave, Friendly and Caring."

The unemployed can look forward to vigorous competition to sign them up. As with FND, it will be some time before there are any results on which to judge the providers.