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No conflict of interest here then?!

According to documents obtained by the Guardian newspaper, Cameron’s senior adviser on troubled families has set up a new partnership to bid for work under a programme to get 120,000 households into work. A programme that she helped create!

Emma Harrison, the multimillionaire founder of private welfare company A4e, was appointed the “families champion” last December. The prime minister singled her out in a key post-riot speech last month, saying she had “develop[ed] a plan to help get these families on track”.

She's already on public record as having stated that, for her to make any money from the scheme would be at the least a “conflict of interest”.

Harrison told the Guardian she withdrew from bidding when the government announced the first tranche of contracts, worth £200m, in February. She said she had accepted the unpaid role but had been “shocked” to learn there would be hundreds of millions of pounds in funding.

“Chris Grayling [the welfare minister] told me he had got £200m. It was a bit of a shock … I thought: ‘Oh crikey, that makes me feel a bit awkward. We will have to withdraw [from the bidding].’”

But documents sent to private firms who did bid for the work reveal that Harrison’s company had set up in January a “partnership” called Families Unlimited, with (wait for it) 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 ... so apparently she wasn't really feeling THAT awkward!

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.”

If I remember right, wasn't A4e the company that took the 'direct payments' contract away from the East Sussex Disability Association (ESDA)?!

Talk about jobs for the boys ... and girls!

Posted by Dave Lupton, 14 September 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 November 2012