Tuesday, 16 August 2011

David Cameron's solution - Emma Harrison

Can Emma Harrison cure our society's ills? Of course not. It's arguable that A4e is a symptom rather than the cure. But she has obviously made a great impression on David Cameron; we had the astonishing spectacle yesterday of the Prime Minister citing Harrison's "family champions" scheme as the answer to the problems thrown up by the riots.

The press this morning shows its usual lack of understanding and research (with the honourable exception of the Guardian). The Mail says: "Aides said Mr Cameron would order ministers to help his family champion, social entrepreneur Emma Harrison, who was appointed last year. Her plans will see police, social workers and jobcentres work together." Somewhat inaccurate.

The Telegraph simply reports what Cameron said without comment.

Only the Guardian is sceptical, with three articles. The first draws attention to the fact that funding for various family intervention projects has been cut. This is interesting because most of us were not aware that such projects existed; Harrison gave the impression that she had invented the concept (and Cameron appeared to believe her). The authors understand the current situation: " While the government said it would make available £200m from the European Social Fund to help fund the target, the rest would come from the early intervention grant, which is to be cut by 11% by next year and has funding for Sure Start, teenage pregnancy and youth centres to meet. Labour said Sure Start had been cut by 20%. A government source acknowledged that using these resources to fund Cameron's target could vary. They said: "It is for local authorities and their partners, including the voluntary sector, to decide how much they wish to prioritise on families with multiple problems in their area." It's a pity that they don't pick up on the fact that this ESF money is going to private companies bidding for contracts.
The second piece (by different writers) looks at the history of family intervention projects and talks to Trevor Moores, the recently retired head of child services in Westminster council (one of Harrison's pilot areas). He said that the problems were more complex than Cameron and Harrison make out. The piece then quotes Rhian Beynon of the charity Family Action who, as we have noted before, is highly sceptical of Harriosn's simplistic approach, and Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family & Parenting Institute, who is similarly sceptical. Finally there's a brief cut-and-paste piece about Emma Harrison and the beginnings of her Working Families Everywhere programme. It says, "She will be paid by results and so aims to save the government money." This is confusing, but it highlights the confusion in Cameron's thinking. Harrison's scheme, and the ESF contracts she no doubt hopes to get, are about getting people into work, and this is the only criterion on which you could have "payment by results". As we noted yesterday, Cameron seems to equate "unemployed" with "anti-social".

Nobody has asked why WFE should be suucessful when A4e and other companies have already been paid many millions of pounds to get these people into work and failed.

It's all great publicity for Emma Harrison and A4e. But it will put them under greater scrutiny than ever before.


  1. You may delete this comment if you wish.. I have created an e petition about reviewing these providers and taking into account past failures and successes.. It is being reviewed now.. I think that all of us who have had bad experiences deserve to speak out and tell people that this isnt a good system and its run by less than honest (in some cases) organisations..

  2. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12739 my petition has been published, once again you may delete this comment, it is only for your information. this is what is said.. it may work or not..but at least the info needs to be out there.

    Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

    I believe that the Work programs and the organisations that provide them, need to be looked into. Prior organisations of similar provisions haven't succeeded in their promises to the government, they need to be looked into and reviewed constantly. With sanctions against them if they fail to do what they promise. To much money has gone into these black holes for little if any effectiveness and prior successes and failures should be taken into account.

  3. I have no reason to delete your comments. But please note that I can't edit comments, just publish them or reject them.

  4. If this govt really wishes to sort out the issues behind the recent rioting and looting, they have to address a couple of issues.

    Firstly, there are no quick fixes. The govt can bring in Ms Harrison a, US ‘zero tolerance’ top police chief and dozens of ‘community leaders’, gurus and social commentators. However, this is merely window dressing at best. What is needed is the full admission that this is a problem that is going to take a generation at least to tackle.

    Secondly, there IS a moral vacuum at the heart of this country. I am NOT excusing the violence that took place. It was a week of madness and those who lost their lives certainly did not deserve what happened to them. That said, it’s no good just saying those rioters are vandals and criminals and will be dealt with. What this govt is attempting to do is tell others how to behave when they and others in similar positions of responsibility and seniority have also behaved badly.

    We have a certain Prince Charles who who is a proven adulterer. Ordinarilly,I would not comment any man or woman having an affair as thats their business. On THEIR conscience be it. However, Charles is a man who will become head of the Chuch of England! What does the Bible say about adultery again?

    We have prince Andrew, a man who is laughingly made British trade ambassador. Not because of his business acumen, specialist knowledge or experience. No. Simply because he is Elizabeth Windsor’s son! Even when associating with a man convicted of paedophilia, his supporters still defended him!

    We have a PM in David Cameron. This was man who was a member of the infamous Bullingdon Club (along with London Mayor, Boris Johnson). The Bullingdon Club were famously involved in trashing restaurants.

    We have a political class who were involved in sex scandals despite singing from the ‘back to basics’ hymn sheet. Others were caught up in the cash for questions episodes several years ago and more recently being in cahoots with and at the apparent beck and call of media barons such as Rupert Murdoch.

    We have journalists hacking the mobile phones of not only the rich and famous but also those who have been the victims of terrorism and cold blooded murder.

    We have newspaper editors who denied all knowledge of what their employees were up to.

    We have media owners trying to pass the buck.

    We have policemen taking backhanders in brown envelopes from the very same journalists. Last time I looked it was illegal to bribe a copper and illegal for the same copper to take such payments.

    We have IT and W2W companies guilty of woeful performances and worse, costing the country £BILLIONS and yet they still get their contracts renewed and rewarded with greater responsibilities and new projects.

    Is any or all of this an excuse to riot, loot and burn? Of course it’s not. However, as an old West African saying put it: “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. It’s no good looking at parents, pop stars and sportsmen and women as role models without looking at those at or near the ‘top’ of society and their behaviour. It’s rather like a father warning his son over the dangers of smoking whilst having a cigarette in his mouth, his 20th for the day!


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