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Mon Feb 20, 2012, 05:55 AM

'Suspend millionaire back to work tsar': MPs demand Cameron acts after police probe job placements t

David Cameron is facing demands to suspend his 'back to work' tsar Emma Harrison after police launched a fraud inquiry.

A senior MP will today table a parliamentary question asking if he will block the A4e company's contracts.

Mrs Harrison, appointed to help problem families find jobs, caused uproar this month when it was revealed she had paid herself £8.6million of mainly taxpayers' cash.

On Friday, detectives visited her company A4e's offices amid claims that it took funding for putting some clients back to work for only a day.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103522/Suspend-work-tsar-MPs-demand-action-fraud-probe-job-placement-scheme.html#ixzz1mv0Fv300

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Reply 'Suspend millionaire back to work tsar': MPs demand Cameron acts after police probe job placements t (Original post)
dipsydoodle Feb 2012 OP
T_i_B Feb 2012 #1
fedsron2us Feb 2012 #2
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2012 #3
dipsydoodle Feb 2012 #4
T_i_B Feb 2012 #5
snagglepuss Feb 2012 #20
T_i_B Feb 2012 #21
snagglepuss Feb 2012 #22
T_i_B Feb 2012 #23
dipsydoodle Feb 2012 #6
T_i_B Feb 2012 #7
fedsron2us Feb 2012 #8
T_i_B Feb 2012 #9
fedsron2us Feb 2012 #10
T_i_B Feb 2012 #11
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2012 #12
T_i_B Feb 2012 #13
SwissTony Feb 2012 #14
T_i_B Feb 2012 #15
SwissTony Feb 2012 #16
T_i_B Feb 2012 #17
fedsron2us Feb 2012 #18
snagglepuss Feb 2012 #19
snagglepuss Feb 2012 #24

Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 07:16 AM

1. Hmmm....

A4E has never been a popular Quango. I wonder if they would have been wound up by now if it weren't for the government's appalling "workfare" scheme.

Mind you, as to the claim that they have had payment for getting peole 24 hour placements, it would not suprise me if they were actually entitled to recive funding for that under the terms agreed between themselves and the government.

The Daily Fail ran a big piece on Saturday asking how on earth she can live in a big stately house. The answer is that her husband runs one of the top-rated Breweries in the UK. Thornbridge Brewery are a big success story round here and run 2 pubs near where I live and quite a few more in Sheffield.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 02:24 PM

2. No truth in the rumour that A4E is an abbreviation of All 8.5 Million For Me

Worst kind of corporate parasites sucking up taxpayers money and profiting from the misery of others

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 08:07 PM

3. 4 already arrested on suspicion of fraud at A4e

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of fraud at government contractor A4e, police have confirmed.

The former staff - women aged 28 and 49 and two men, aged 35 and 41 - were held last month and bailed until mid-March.

As part of its work, A4e handles millions of pounds worth of government contracts for welfare-to-work schemes.

A4e said the alleged fraud dated back to 2010 and was uncovered by its own internal investigation. It relates to its offices in Slough, Berkshire.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17122796

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 08:10 PM

4. I saw that on Sky's tomorrow's papers review

but it was the Mail. Apparently its a very fair article.

Slough ! - must be The Office.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 07:50 AM

5. The BBC article is very much A4E's side of the story.

The Daily Fail's coverage has been more wide ranging then the fraud story, which is fair enough as there are a lot of issues that people have had with A4E.

The annoying thing about the Daily Fail's coverage of the story is their obsession with Emma Harrison's personal life. They fail to take into account that she is not the only wealthy person living at Thornbridge Hall, plus their obsession with pictures of her in a sari is really quite purile.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 09:39 AM

20. I think the focus on her personal life is critical because

according to one article, her new age persona and jargon is what so endeared her to politicians. This scandal should open everyone eyes to the fact that the image of predatory Capitalists has changed, it's no longer polished white males making deals on golf courses or on yachts.

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Response to snagglepuss (Reply #20)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 11:57 AM

21. I very much doubt it.

There's very little "new age" abut A4E. Management consultant gobbledygook yes, but there's not just A4E who are guilty of that.

Thornbridge Brewery on the other hand could be accused of being a little bit "new age" at times, but that much is heavily outweighed by the upmarket/posh side of their marketing, and the brewery has not been going for as much time as A4E by some distance.

Anyway, enough of me banging on about beer (If you live where I live and happen to be a real ale enthusiast then you can't really avoid Thornbridge) THIS is a critical point

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/25/a4e-welfare-emma-harrison-properties?intcmp=239

• The Department of Work and Pensions, it emerged, has exempted private companies in the Work Programme from inspections by Ofsted, the standards body that previously inspected companies involved in welfare and training.

How if you were in the private sector and you were that lax in your dealings with your suppliers you would be in very serious trouble indeed and it's annoying to see government interpret free market dogma as "don't hold your suppliers accountable for any f**k-ups".

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #21)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 01:31 PM

22. This is not the article I was referring to but this also describes a new-agey image

In terms of the face they present to the world, Harrison and her company have two distinct sides. One is bound up with that strangulated officialspeak that took root in the New Labour period, as proven by the company's promotional blurb: "Through quality assurance, contract management, performance management, data management; evaluation; capacity building; and market making we help governments deliver more for less."

The other is in keeping with that slightly twee, cuddly approach one associates with Virgin Trains and Innocent smoothies. A4e's chosen typefaces often approximate children's handwriting. If you hit the contact button on its website, the kind of faux-naif drawing that you see on the cover of chick-lit novels appears, with the words, "We'd love to meet you. The kettle's always on." On the section of the site devoted to welfare-to-work, the text says: "Even after you've landed a job, we're always here if you need us. And besides, we're nosy."

This air of slightly laboured sweetness extends to Harrison herself, as demonstrated by the YouTube film made to announce her work with the government as "families tsar". All is good cheer, innocence, and slight oddness. "It's everything I wanted to: it's absolutely wonderful," she says. "I've been asked by No 10 – you know, David Cameron and the gang – to see what I can do to help the families who've never worked."




http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/21/emma-harrison-a4e-nice-work?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487




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Response to snagglepuss (Reply #22)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 01:46 PM

23. That's not "new-agey"

That's more way more to do with 1990's "cool Britannia" then 1960's flower plower, as I see every day as I go past an A4E centre on the way to work. The issue for A4E however, is that people's experiences of them are very different indeed to the marketing, and as A4E are accountable to a 3rd party (the Department of Work and Pensions) rather then employer or employee you wonder who they are meant to be "selling" their services to in the 1st place.
Some of the marketing for Thornbridge Jaipur is a bit hippyish, but Thornbridge marketing is more posh then hippy, and in any case that's not the business of Emma Harrison, that's the business of her husband, even if Jaipur is named after the city where they got engaged.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:46 AM

6. A4e compelled jobseekers to work unpaid in its own offices

The company at the centre of a police investigation into an alleged abuse of government back-to-work contracts compelled jobseekers to work unpaid in its own offices for at least a month at a time, the Guardian can reveal.

In response to a freedom of information request about the company last year, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed that A4e sent jobseekers it was meant to be helping into employment to work in at least two of its own offices in an apparent conflict of interest.

The placements, part of Labour's Flexible New Deal scheme, were mandatory and are understood to have lasted for four weeks. Those on benefits were, in effect, forced to work for free for the company or have their benefits stripped.

The DWP's list of placements from just one of A4e's offices in Holloway, north London, shows that it sent the unemployed to work at two of its other London offices in Camden and Woolwich. The document also contains a third reference to work in an A4e office.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/22/a4e-compelled-jobseekers-unpaid-offices

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 02:23 PM

7. David Cameron's 'back to work' tsar Emma Harrison quits amid fraud allegations

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9101766/David-Camerons-back-to-work-tsar-Emma-Harrison-quits-amid-fraud-allegations.html

A4e is at the centre of a police investigation and could be investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following the arrest of four of its former employees on suspicion of fraud.

The company also revealed that a former A4e subcontractor is being investigated in a separate police investigation and that the company has been at the heart of five serious investigations into financial irregularity since 2005.

Now Mrs Harrison, 48, has told the Prime Minister that she intends to resign from her Government role. She said: "I have asked to step aside from my voluntary role as Family Champion as I do not want the current media environment to distract from the very important work with troubled families.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:00 PM

8. Much as I hate parasitical companies such as A4E

one can not help thinking that Harrison and her ilk are engaged by politicians and civil servants precisely so they can be offered up as sacrifices when schemes such as Workfare start to implode. Essentially they are engaged to act as 'cut-outs' between the public and the people in power such as IDS at the DWP so that the latter do not have to take the blame for their fuck ups. Regardless of whether the criminal charges gainst A4E employees stick Harrisons resignation has acted as a handy diversion to take peoples attention away from the other fiascos in the area of government employment policy.

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Response to fedsron2us (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:42 PM

9. Emma Harrison is not resigning from her role at A4E.

She's resigning as the government's "family champion". Can't help but wonder if she's resigned from the wrong position.

If you have slight sympathy for Emma Harrison they you are in a very small minority, as can be seen from the below threads on Sheffield Forum. As you can quite possibly guess from my earlier posts my sympathies lie more with the brewery run by Emma Harrison's husband. Was drinking Jaipur only 2 nights ago as it happens!

http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=942008
http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=551078

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:26 PM

10. Ironically you are rather confirming the point I am trying to make

Last edited Thu Feb 23, 2012, 06:21 PM - Edit history (5)

The fact people In Sheffield and elsewhere are talking about Harrison rather than the general iniquities of the government workfare policy means the cut-out is working as intended.

I dont have a single shred of human feeling for Ms Harrison or her kind. But it does not matter a badgers arse whether I think Harrison is guiltless paragon of virtue or the biggest scumbag who walked God's earth. Like many private sector 'contractor' sucking up the taxpayers money she and her company are employed partly so they can take the hit on behalf of the politicians and the senior civil servants when policies go shit faced. The sudden upsurge of interest in a criminal enquiry which appears to have been going on for years and her timely resignation from a meaningless non salaried government Tsar role is just a convenient piece of political theatre whipped up to divert the publics attention from the fact the flagship government workfare scheme essentially sank last Friday with all hands when most of the major employers engaged on the enterprise walked away from it.

If you watch the many government scandals over the years from IT fiascos to Health service failures you will find that being a professional scapegoat in the blame business has become quite a lucrative form of activity. Often companies that 'fail' miserably on one contract mysteriously still win new ones from different parts of government. A classic example was EDS taking the bullet for the National Tax Credits meltdown at the Inland Revenue under the last Labour government. The truth was that much of this IT disaster was not down to the contractor but was due to the fact that politicians and civil servants insisted on rushing a not fully tested system into production against the advice of the supplier. This inevitably led to many of the subsequent failures. As a consequence EDS took the fall and were booted out to be Inland Revenue contract. Alan Stevens the UK head of EDS even appeared before the Commons Public Accounts Committee to 'apologise' for the failure. Despite this apparent calamity EDS went on to win a lucrative contract with the MOD in the very same year. The reason was very simple. Instead of cutting up rough over their treatment and setting their lawyers on HMG EDS played the 'patsy' to perfection taking the rap for the Treasury and the Revenue thus ensuring another spin the taxpayer funded government roulette wheel. I fully expect a similar scenario to played out in a couple of years when the 'supplier' of the new Universal Benefit systems are ceremonially axed for the failures of that system. It is all a fucking game where the politicians, government departments, contractors and press all know the rules.

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Response to fedsron2us (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 07:26 AM

11. If you read the threads properly

You'll see that Goverment of both Coalition and Labour varieties get plenty of criticism on those threads (they are the ones who give A4E the contracts after all), and Workfare is heavily criticized on Sheffield Forum a lot. The problem for a lot of the posters on Sheffield Forum is that all 3 main parties are cosy with A4E so they can't make cheap partisan points about their political opponents so easily.

However, A4E is still seen as being something of a "Sheffield" organization, and a lot of people round these parts have had very bad experiences with them, as can be seen on those threads. People round here have had issues with A4E well before the media took an interest.

It might be interesting to see if other organizations in the same field have the same range of problems with their service as A4E do.

And then there's the whole matter of whether or not it would be better for all concerned if the government funded job centres to do their job properly and not just give people the "wham bam thank you mam" treatment when they go in to sign on.

Instead we have the whole dogma about paying the private sector to do something more expensively then it would be done by keeping such services "in house".

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 12:59 PM

12. But now she has:

Emma Harrison has stepped down as chairman of her welfare-to-work firm A4e, she has said in a statement.
...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17161210

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 03:37 PM

13. There's the Steel City Beer Festival awards at Thornbridge Hall tonight.

Of all the days for Emma Harrison to resign! Maybe I should have attended?

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 04:19 PM

14. Haven't been to Sheffield.

But would seem to be a good place to be tonight. Specially if you can sample local beers.

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Response to SwissTony (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 05:00 PM

15. Sheffield is the best place in Britain for real ale.

The soiree in question however is out of town at Thornbridge Hall, residence of one Emma Harrison, former head of A4E as of today.

I think Thornbridge won the beer of the festival for Raven as well!

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 05:23 PM

16. I'm an Aussie but I love English beers.

Subtlety...heaven. You can travel a mile in England and your heart can be broken because the best beer in the world you just discovered yesterday isn't available at the pub you're now in. But, hey, they've got something just as good. Heaven restored.

So, let's raise a glass to good old Emma...em, like fuck we will.

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Response to SwissTony (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 06:18 PM

17. The production manager at Thornbridge Brewery is an Aussie

Used to work for Little Creatures. Nice guy but I don't agree with all his views on beer (he likes a bit too much carbonation in his beer, not really a real ale man even if he does like his hops).

Needless to say, Thornbridge Brewery doesn't get it's brewers off A4E's books.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 24, 2012, 10:07 PM

18. Apparently she wants to spend more time close to her money.

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Response to fedsron2us (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 08:54 AM

19. What a great line. Someone in UK should make that into a bumpersticker.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Original post)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 02:49 PM

24. A new tidbit. Director of A4E used to work for Cameron

snip


A former Tory official who worked in David Cameron’s inner circle and was an aide tohis policy adviser Steve Hilton is now a director of scandal-hit A4e, it emerged last night.

In an example of ‘revolving door politics’, Jonty Olliff-Cooper joined A4e armed with top-drawer Conservative Party contacts.

Critics said it was evidence of the cosy relationship between the Government and A4e, which holds Whitehall contracts worth tens of millions of pounds.

At Mr Cameron’s Policy Unit, Mr Olliff-Cooper was Tory guru Steve Hilton’s close aide for a year from 2008 to 2009.




Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105093/Back-work-tsar-Emma-Harrisons-firm-A4e-facing-second-fraud-inquiry.html#ixzz1nWFUctvc

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