Monday, 9 March 2015

Some thoughts on the sell-off

Whoever tweets on A4e's behalf was merrily going on about apprenticeships today, and that was the news on their website.  It's not surprising that there's nothing about the impending sale.  But I'm now wondering whether potential buyers might hold off until after the election.  The result could be a big influence on how much the parts of the business are worth.
Take welfare-to-work.  Labour has said that it would not renew the current Work Programme contracts, but would instead give the organisation to local bodies such as councils and LEPs.  This would still mean the involvement of private companies, but not on the same scale.  A Conservative government would just produce a new variation of the WP.  Would Labour carry on with workfare?  It was a Labour government which started it, after all.  They are pledged to stop it for young people, replacing it with guaranteed (although temporary) paid jobs, but have said nothing about older people.
As for prison education, that depends on getting a government which stops cutting the numbers of prison staff, leaving prisoners unable to attend classes.  And then there's the Money Advice service, another unknown prospect.
The Tories are saying that 30,000 staff are to go from the DWP.  Given how utterly shambolic that department is now, that is frightening.  But could this mean the outsourcing of Jobcentre Plus?  ("We've created [make up a number] private sector jobs .....")  They've been hankering after doing that for some time, and any company in the sector would be scrambling for contracts.  That would make A4e's assets attractive.
Labour intends to subject outsourcing companies to the same transparency rules as public sector bodies, but it wouldn't stop outsourcing.  However, a Tory government would be a much more attractive prospect for potential buyers of A4e.


  1. I'm not sure whether A4e would enter into any new types of govt contracts this side of a sale. After all, the idea of selling A4e is to get Emma Harrison out of these govt contracts, not to drag her into financial responsibility for any more of them. The old slogan of "All 4 Emma" has turned into "The Buck Stops With Emma," I suspect.

    Also, one reason why the Tories hate the civil service so much is because they believe/suspect that far too many civil servants don't vote for the Tories, so the the Tories are unlikely to threaten to privatise the JCP before 07 May, imho.

    1. There won't be new government contracts until after the election. My point was that how attractive A4e is to potential buyers depends on what prospects of contracts there are after it.

    2. In the house of Lords they are pretty much saying that the Money Advice Service (Does A4E still run this?) is redundant and a waste of taxpayers money,they have been waiting on a report/study since last year,but for some reason it has not been released(IDS influence?) seems like another nail in A4E.

  2. I haven't studied A4e's balance sheet (got better things to do!) but I suspect that there are no real assets other than "goodwill" (not worth the paper it isn't written on) and the existing govt contracts. As Historian says the outcome of the GE will effect the value of A4e one way or another. At the present time it could be seen as a sort of cash cow by getting rid of a lot of the costs (staff), not bidding for any new business and merely running the existing contracts until they expire with minimum staff. If it is true that EH has personally guaranteed multi million pound loans then I would be a bit worried if I were her as the value of such a company may not even cover its borrowings.

  3. Meanwhile (off topic) IDS gets Polly Toynbee's boot in the unmentionables:

  4. The outsourcing of JCP? I have been predicting this for a couple of years. I suppose three words spring to mind - "It's too late!" Too late for JCP staff and their union to do anything about it. And too late for the public to give a toss.

    Think of a couple of recent sell offs / privatisations. East Coat Trains (now part of Virgin) And Royal Mail. Both these sell offs garnered public disquiet and indeed opposition. Customers who used their services and much of the wider public actually cared about their future direction.

    If and probably when JCP is outsourced, many if not most will shrug their shoulders and say "So wot?!?!" No doubt due to the fact that many of the 'clients' JCP purports to help see it as increasingly unfit for purpose. Add to this the fact that the wider public want nothing to do with their local jobcentre in the first place. And increasingly have little sympathy for those who have to. Thus it has become an unloved service.

    If 30,000 staff are lost from the DWP, one can only imaging how shockingly worse it will become. It is a dysfunctional, rouge service in it's current form. No doubt this will include shutting many jobcentres and making the service wholly digital.

  5. 'Add to this the fact that the wider public want nothing to do with their local jobcentre in the first place. And increasingly have little sympathy for those who have to.'

    You're probably right but what a shame. In the past the Job Centre was a place where you COULD find work and was trusted by both local employers AND the public. Now it is just an arm of the Ministry of Justice where the unemployed are heavily punished for minor (and non-criminal) offences.

    I have found many jobs over the years thru the JC but none since 2007. Many of the jobs on UJM are duplicates or bogus. Very few local employers use it.

    Perhaps the JC merely reflects that there aren't that many decent jobs out there but its modus operandi has certainly changed. One 'coach' I saw said that her job was not to help me find work but to 'facilitate the process of finding work' and 'monitor my claim' (i.e. impose sanctions, where possible).

    I have written before about the apparent indifference the British public appear to have toward the unemployed and their plight. This has allowed the Tories to run the service down, which suits neither the unemployed, who get less help AND the taxpayer, who will have to pay more for a sub-contacted based service.

    If the public don't care about their local JC they should. Just because some people don't use it doesn't t mean it doesn't offer a vital service.


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