*** UPDATE ***
Things have got very strange with this story. Ms Harrison has visited the comments thread and left a comment. Patrick Butler has responded. Here’s his reply –
For the record, as writer of the blog, I’d like to draw attention to Emma Harrison’s post in this thread, in which she denies making the comments attributed to her in the press release issued by Hillgrove PR:
I did not have any knowledge of this press release. I did not ask for it, write it or approve it. My views are wholly and utterly misrepresented and from what I can determine were written by someone from Hillgrove that I have never met with, or spoken to. The blog writer by his own admission was suspicious that these were not my sentiments but he did not bother to check with me. Ummmmmm.
Anyone who wants to know what I really think and what I do to try and make sure the UK welfare reforms makes things better for people then look at my blogs via
Mya4e.com ( I did write them !! )
To clarify, yes, I was sufficiently shocked by the comments made in the press release to call up the PR firm to check that it wasn’t a hoax. They confirmed it wasn’t. Indeed they told me: “It’s what Emma said.”
Hillgrove’s website lists A4E among its clients here:
Emma Harrison’s relationship with her PR company, and by what protocols they are authorised to issue press releases on her behalf is her business, but to imply that I’ve been somehow been careless here is, frankly, a bit of a cheap shot.
Setting aside the scrambling defence being offered on this PR gaffe the comments thread makes for some disturbing reading from current and former A4e clients and employees.
Here’s the text of my original post.
I’m not easily shocked these days but my eyes goggled yesterday when I read the latest post on Patrick Butler’s cuts blog. It reported some comments from Emma Harrison from a company called A4E. The company is a great success story having been started by Ms Harrison in the early 1990s to help Sheffield’s redundant steelworkers back into work. Since then the company has grown to have a turnover of £190 million employing 3,400 people. A4e claims to have helped a million people into work and, according to the company’s fact sheet, is now the largest supplier of all sorts of things to the government.
In other words the company’s existence and success depends upon a flow of benefit claimants or the employed across its threshold.
That might explain some of the extraordinary language used by Ms Harrison in a news release picked up in the cuts blog. Here’s the quote that really caught my eye,
“The coalition government’s cuts are, in fact, fantastic!”
Fantastic? For whom? Well clearly for A4e. But also for all of us on the frontline apparently. Part of Ms Harrison’s schtick is ‘tough love’. So I suppose those of us that have been or are about to be fired should feel particularly cherished.
Carpet-bagging is not a term that’s used a lot these days which is a shame because it expresses exactly some of the things I have begun to see in the world of job hunting and redundancy which I now inhabit. Carpet-baggers arrived in the devastated southern states immediately after the end of the American Civil War looking to profit off the back of the economic hardship and misery defeat had brought.
I have been contacted by all sorts of organisations offering to help me in my job search (for a fee) or to involve me in all sorts of schemes that will enrich me (after a modest investment from me). My point is that there are already carpet-baggers galore out there looking to make a buck from my misfortune. So it comes hard to read that a leading provider of help to people in my situation thinks what is happening is ‘fantastic’.
With absolutely no hint of malice I fervently hope all those organisations looking to provide help (at a price) run out of the raw material – people like me – on which their business models depend.
Now that would be fantastic.