Relationships

This government, as with the last, has appointed business people to be “champions” for this or that issue.  Emma Harrison, the founder of private multi million pound welfare company A4e is the “families champion”

As such she has been advising on the programme to get 120,000 households into work.

According to a Guardian article Emma Harrison told the newspaper “she withdrew from bidding when the government announced the first tranche of contracts, worth £200m”. That is her company A4e withdrew from bidding for the programme to get the 120,000 households into work.

The Guardian reveals though:

…documents sent to private firms who did bid for the work reveal that Harrison’s company (that is A4e) had set up in January a “partnership” called Families Unlimited, with a former civil servant who until this year was running the Department for Education’s “support services for families with multiple needs”, to pitch for the cash.

Families Unlimited offered to execute the work won by “prime contractors” for a fee. In blunt language, the documents say that “A4e will not bid as a prime contractor … due to a conflict of interest arising from the work of its founder and chairman, Emma Harrison, through the Working Families Everywhere initiative. However, DWP [the Department for Work and Pensions] have advised that no conflict arises where A4e is acting as a subcontractor.”

This shows the sort of tangled relationships that governments run into when it co-opts business people (whose prime goal, at least in their work life, is to make money; as much as possible) and gets them to advise on matters that sometimes involve the government spending lots of money in the very area that that person has business interests in.

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