X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Blogs

David Cameron, A4e and subcontracted policy

27 February 2012

5:51 PM

27 February 2012

5:51 PM

It has taken some time, but the media has now worked out that the government’s
back-to-work reforms are a story which just keeps on giving. Under the Work Programme, vast amounts of taxpayers’ money will find its way into the pockets of the people running the new
system. When these contracts were given out last year, it all seemed a little too technical to make into a headline story. But a castle and an £8 million bonus changed all that. Now, the
story of Emma Harrison and A4e is in danger of taking on the status of fable for the Cameron government. This weekend the Observer and the Independent on Sunday both had a pop and shadow Work and Pensions secretary Liam Byrne has
begun to ask some probing questions.

I should declare an interest here. My charity, New Deal of the Mind, has a contract with the welfare-to-work giant. Last week all organisations on the A4e supply chain were warned to refer all
media enquiries to the company’s press office. Finally, everyone seems to have woken up to what it will mean if this storm of negative publicity begins to undermine the operation of the Work
Programme itself and its ability to help the millions of people out there who need it.

[Alt-Text]


Within government, there is a pattern developing here. The Cameron way is to devolve as much decision-making as he can and subcontract the writing of policy. Despite the ‘heir-of-Blair’
narrative, in this he is very different from the centralising control-freakery of New Labour. In Health, this instinct to devolve has landed Cameron in serious trouble. Could the same happen in the
welfare-to-work arena, where, in a sense, there has been a double devolution? The Prime Minister devolved responsibility for welfare reform to Iain Duncan Smith, who, in turn, subcontracted the job
of remodelling welfare-to-work to Lord Freud and Chris Grayling. In an ideal world this is exactly how government should work (and there is much right-wing utopianism in the Cameron government).

But there are two fundamental flaws at the heart of the Work Programme reforms. The first is that this was a scheme designed during a time of economic growth for a world where there was a
relatively ready supply of jobs. For the prime providers to deliver in a time of economic contraction will be extremely difficult without pumping further incentives such as the Youth Contract job
subsidies into the system. And the second flaw is the bolt-on rhetoric of the Big Society, which is supposed to be part of the Work Programme pledge. There is very little evidence as yet that the
prime contractors are passing on work to charities. But, to be fair, the system devised by Lord Freud was never really designed to deliver for the third sector.

The figures speak for themselves. Under the previous back-to-work scheme, the Future Jobs Fund, New Deal of the Mind helped more than 800 people into six-month placements and 70 per cent went into
jobs or education as a result — a massive saving to the benefits bill. Under the Work Programme, we have been removed from the process altogether.

So what happens now? What is the government doing to reassure small organisations in A4e’s supply chain that this mess will be sorted out? David Cameron needs to get a personal grip because
his political credibility is at stake here, as are the lives of the millions of people out there who are desperate to get back to work.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close