Monday, 21 July 2014

Changes at A4e

We knew that various directors of A4e had come and gone, having done their stints on the board.  However, separately from that, Mark Lovell has gone.  His job was terminated at the end of May (yes, I know it's July now, but I've only just picked it up.)  He had been with A4e since the start in 1991, and there were those who said that he was the brains behind the business rather than Emma Harrison.  Lovell kept a low profile, in contrast to Ms Harrison, and I only remember seeing him on TV once.  He was Executive Chairman of A4e for over 22 years, but in September last year he stepped down and became a non exec director.  He's now become the principal of something called The Social Assistance Partnership.   So all the old guard has gone.

There could be some new business for A4e if the Conservatives win in 2015.  The "think tank" Policy Exchange, which is actually a Tory brand, wants to privatise jobcentres.  There's a useful article in the Belfast Telegraph, and another on the Huffington Post site.  The service would be split and the "employment services arm" privatised while the rest would be renamed Citizen Support.  It's inevitable that any service still in the public sector will be outsourced sharpish if the Tories get in.


  1. It has been reported before that Ms Harrison wanted to take over certain aspects of the Job Centre plus role. Primarily to get the hapless souls in to the Work Programme at an earlier stage. Would the likes of A4e be any better at helping the unemployed back in to work than the JCP ?
    A large number of people claiming JSA return to work fairly quickly without any help from the JCP or a WP provider. For those forced to suffer the indignity of the WP, results have fallen well short of expectations, indeed, there have been reports that the Work Programme is actually worse than doing nothing.

    The claim from this "think tank" that the private sector has the expertise to take over the role of the JCP is, at best, delusional - The job search market is already highly competitive; each job seeker is competing with everyone else and trying to filter out the fake jobs from the real ones.

    1. So, according to the for the Social Assistance Partnership above "Our primary business focus is assisting our clients with understanding, developing, penetrating and oftentimes creating publicly-funded social assistance markets."

    2. The key phrase here is 'publicly funded markets'. Isn't that a contradiction? I thought we lived in a free-market economy?

      I would argue that the 'employment services arm' of the Job Centre has already been privatised through the creation of the Work Programme and Help To Work.

      I would have no problem with this if it worked. But the WP has failed to get the long-term unemployed back into permanent work. Yet, despite this failure the Tories wish to hand over MORE work to the private sector.

      This is the lie that the Tories pedal. The idea that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. They have ignored the failures of companies like A4e and continue to reward this failure.

      Once upon a time the Tories were (supposedly) the party of 'aspiration'. They are now the party that represents the corruption of the economy by transferring public money into the private sector regardless its success.

      What we have seen in the last four years is a redistribution of wealth AWAY from the British taxpayer and into the pockets of the rich.

  2. The JCP is crucial to IDS’ pretence that his Universal Cock-up project is something other than yet another of his abject disasters. Why would he want to ditch his only remaining hope?

  3. I suspect that A4E is not wealthy enough to compete with Capita, Serco and G4S. However, Mark Lovell does have long experience of the outsourcing industry – as far as I can gather, Lovell & Harrison were two of the earliest “pioneers” in this then-new field.

    I suspect that the outsource companies now realize that PbR doesn’t work because it is so heavily dependent on the state of a country’s economy, the political will in the relevant country and so forth – capitalism makes PbR too risky.

    I’m no economist but it is not rocket science to deduce that IDS is so dim that he has no hope of understanding anything except his own quasi-religious fervour. According to Afferbeck Lauder, the author of “Let Stalk Strine,” IDS is a No Woper.

  4. Closing down JCP and privatising / outsourcing it's core work was something I and other predicted would happen. As someone here has already suggested, much of the work done by JCP is being carried out (in an even worse fashion) by the W2W sector. And many jobseekers are already seeing the removal of not only job points but even telephones as well! So your local JCP is likely to be offering a reduced service as it is.

    So where does this proposal leave JCP staff? In an even worse state I reckon. No doubt huge job cuts for starters. Then the remaining staff will be left on worse pay and conditions, leading to increased numbers taking sick leave due to stress and even leaving the sector altogether.

    And whilst this sounds harsh of me, I cannot summon up a great deal of sympathy for many (although not all not all) of the staff and management. They should have seen this coming nearly two decades ago and spoken out when A4e, Serco, G4s et al happily buried their noses in the trough and effectively took the bread from the JCP table. Instead, they happily sent people to New Deal, Flexible New Deal and the Work prog when they knew full well they were failing their clients.

    Any action taken now or later up to the point of any actual privatsation will be ignored and will fall on deaf ears. Many jobseekers have had a poor service from JCP and see it as increasingly unfit for purpose. Whilst the working public will not want to have anything to do with JCP in the first place. So it becomes a service nobody cares too much about.Yet despite this, JCP still performs better than the useless Work program anyway. Anyone who thinks the likes of Serco, G4s, Capita and a few selected charities will somehow transform JCP into a lean mean job sourcing machine is fooling themselves.

    1. You won't be surprised that I disagree with your third paragraph. Jobcentre staff and management had no say in the outsourcing programme. They didn't "happily" send people to the private companies; they had no choice. Most were deeply resentful that jobs were cut. Relationships between the JC staff and the private companies were quite good until the 2006 contracts, and then turned sour. I understand how people feel about the JCs now, but until the outsourcing boom they were staffed by people who, despite low pay, were trying to do a decent job for their clients. It's that element of disinterested (in the sense of unbiased) public service which goes out of the window with privatisation.

    2. Okay, perhaps I was too rash in saying 'happily'. However, many jobseekers did seem to get short shrift (incl myself) when challenging the futility of such back to work schemes.

    3. Published on July. "In January this year, the Work and Pensions Committee released a report on the role of the Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system. The Government's response to the Committee's report was published in April. This report and the Government's response have been selected by the Liaison Committee to be debated in Westminster Hall.

      The Committee's key conclusions and recommendations included:

      Jobcentre Plus (JCP) should continue to provide a public employment service for the unemployed;
      JCP’s key performance indicators be immediately revised to ensure that JCP is incentivised to get jobseekers into work, not just to get them off benefits;
      DWP should monitor the impact of benefits sanctions on claimants; and
      The Government should increase its oversight of job vacancies posted on Universal Jobmatch."

    4. Just a suggestion. If you're posting a link, particularly a long URL like the one above, it makes sense to shorten it (Google URL Shortener is one way).

  5. I recently attended a "Training Fair" at the JCP+,travel was not funded,but if it was not your sign on day,you would sign on (actually made sense) their were 11 training companies there,finally I could know what training was available..basic stuff CV,Interview techniques and an assortment of "Certificates" that could be awarded upon completion of a 2-4 day course(funded by the JCP+) are they awarded by a known trade body? No we award these certificates ourselves,but they are a stepping what?..I dislike sounding negative,but more worthless mumbo jumbo! The one facility that offered 7.5 Ton.Forklift and HGV Training had no funding available or the ability to offer a loan..and the point was?

  6. I was asked by my jcp adviser why i was having difficulty finding work,i refused to answer,she ask what my problem was? the only answer i could find was,I Don't trust you,you have mislead me in the past and are very frugal with the facts,i feel that anything i say will be used against me,


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".