The news that the Coalition is to tackle ‘welfare dependency’ via a ‘payments by results’ programme puts Princess Emma firmly back in the spotlight.
‘We will pay organisations by results’ announced Chris Grayling.
What exactly does that mean, and where does Princess Emma fit into it? Princess Emma’s background can be read HERE and HERE and HERE. She specialises in relieving the government of four figure sums for getting the unemployed back into work.
Since the coalition came into power, that has meant a tad more than occupying them with yoghourt pots and sticky tape, and then getting them to take up some form of employment for a couple of weeks. These days the person formerly known as ‘unemployable’ actually has to stick at the job for two years before Princess Emma gets paid. However, the fee has shot up from around £1,500 per client to a stonking £14,000.
Since this will ultimately net the taxpayer circa £60,000 in unpaid benefits, you might think this is a bargain price – but is the fee going to the right person?
Let us imagine, for arguments sake, that Emma secures a job for a client at a small local garage – general handyman, floor sweeper, tea maker, with occasional forays to get spare parts.
Getting the person formerly known as ‘Mr Unemployed’ to apply for the job in the first place could have been achieved by means of threatening to withdraw his benefits if he didn’t, via the job centre – already government funded.
Perhaps we could charitably assume that Mr Unemployed has mental health problems, or suffers from some disability? In which case, Emma and her yoghourt pots might hold some value, and the original £1,500 for bolstering that person’s confidence could turn out to be good value for money.
What of the remaining £12,500 though? It is dependant on Mr Unemployed continuing to have the right degree of confidence to get up every morning, arrive on time, and do all the jobs expected of him to be worth his wages to our local garage owner for two years.
Who will be shouldering the burden for that? Who will be saying ‘well done’ to Mr Unemployed when he finally finishes sweeping the floor? Who will be nipping round to his house to find out what is wrong when he fails to turn up to work? Who will be saying ‘are you coming for a drink with the lads’ on a Friday night to make our insecure Mr Unemployed feel included, that maybe work has its fun side too? Who will be gritting his teeth and saying ‘don’t worry about it’ when Mr Unemployed manages to sweep up the essential last nut for the gearbox into the rubbish bin – mustn’t dent his confidence, must we?
It seems to me that the person who will shoulder the burden of convincing Mr Unemployed of the benefits of long term employment is going to be that small garage owner. Why then, when he has successfully converted our unwilling friend into the ranks of the usefully employed, will it be Princess Emma who gets the bonus?
Wouldn’t it have been more helpful all round, and a damn sight fairer, if the bounty of £12,500 was offered to small businesses who took on the burden of someone who has spent half a life time lying in bed, and turned them into useful members of society two years later – they need the money far more than our favourite multi-millionairess, and if they are successful, they deserve it far more.
Emma’s A4E business is a success story that is looking to expand exponentially. Recently they announced their intention to develop a fund – a private bank in effect – to make loans to the long term unemployed.
Developing a fund with finance partners from which the people we work with who start their own business, or a social enterprise, can secure capital to help them get going. Access to capital and microcredit/finance is more important than ever in the current economic climate and self-employment or business start up is really important.
Interesting – they loan say £5,000 to a long term unemployed client. Said client makes a success of his business for two years – A4E get their £14,000 success fee, and the client still has to repay them the £5,000.
Perhaps the business is not a success? A4E have that eventuality covered too.
Extending and joining up our services to provide debt advice and support to people in financial difficulty. We currently deal with over 60,000 people per annum across a range of our services – from legal aid to welfare – and we anticipate this increasing, towards 150,000 over the next 12 months.
A4E get paid for helping them to ‘manage’ their debt.
Their ambition doesn’t stop there.
We want to join up as many services as possible. We deal with around 400,000 consumers per year at the moment. Most of them are either out of work or on low incomes. They access a range of public services from multiple agencies and we contract with nearly 40 different organisations to deliver these services. We can provide better, joined up services at more marginal cost by bringing some of these activities together.
A4E will end up being the new Social Services at this rate…..