Emma Harrison (entrepreneur)

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Emma Harrison
Born Emma Cridland[1]
Colchester, Essex, England[2]
Alma mater University of Bradford
Known for Founder and former chairman, A4e

Emma Louise Harrison CBE (née Cridland),[4] (born 13 August 1963) is an entrepreneur. She is the founder and a key shareholder of A4e (Action for employment). She was the company's chairperson until 24 February 2012.


A graduate engineer (BEng) of the University of Bradford, Harrison founded A4e in 1991.

She was appointed as a voluntary troubled families 'Family Champion' by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010,[5] despite civil servants recommending propriety and ethics checks on her.[6] Harrison resigned from the post on 23 February 2012, following allegations of fraud at A4e and controversy over her £8.6m personal dividend payment.[7][8] On 29 February 2012, David Cameron announced he had launched an inquiry into her appointment, saying he had not been aware of fraud allegations at A4e when he appointed her.[9]

Payments from A4e[edit]

In February 2012, it was revealed that Harrison was paid an £8.6 million dividend on her shares in 2011, in addition to her £365,000 annual salary.[10] The company's chief executive, Andrew Dutton, stated that Harrison's dividend payment reflected her personal risk as a shareholder.[11] MP Stephen Barclay said the payment's size was of concern with regard to the DWP receiving value for money. He questioned the justification of paying management fees not linked to performance, adding that "It's not A4e's fault if they get paid for poor delivery."[11] The payment was criticised by former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and current Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge as "ripping off the State".[12]

On 25 February it emerged that in addition to her £365,000 annual salary and £8.6m shares dividend, A4e also paid Harrison and her partner around £1.7m over two years for leasing properties, including their 20-bedroom stately home, to her own firm.[13]

Resignation from A4e[edit]

On 24 February 2012, Harrison announced her resignation as Chairman of A4e, stating, "I do not want the continuing media focus on me to be any distraction for A4e..."[14] In March 2015 six former employees were jailed for forging files in a scam that cost the taxpayer almost £300,000. Another four ex-members of staff received suspended prison sentences for what Judge Angela Morris said were "deceitful and unscrupulous" practices. They had falsified employer details, time sheets and job-seeker signatures to inflate the numbers they said they had helped into work.[15]


Emma Harrison has appeared in Channel 4's Make me a Million and Series 1 of The Secret Millionaire.[16][17] While behind the bar in a working men's club in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham for the show, she heard racist language that made her feel "physically sick" and she left after two and a half hours.[17]


Harrison was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.[18]

She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Derby (2007),[19] Sheffield Hallam University (2008),[3] and the University of Bradford (2008).[20]

Charity work[edit]

Emma Harrison is a trustee of the Eden Project (registered charity no. 1093070) [21]


She is married to Jim Harrison, founder and chairman of Thornbridge Brewery,[22] They have four children[22] and have homes in London[citation needed] and at Thornbridge Hall, Derbyshire.[22]


  1. ^ "Profile: Emma Harrison BEng Mechanical Engineering – 1987" (PDF). The Braduate. University of Bradford. 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2012. That determined young lady is Emma Harrison (née Cridland). 
  2. ^ a b https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVWS-TBQZ
  3. ^ a b "Emma Harrison | Honorary Awards". Sheffield Hallam University. 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2012. Honorary Doctorate – 2008 Emma grew up in Sheffield and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Bradford. In 1987, at the age of 23, she took over her father's Sheffield-based training agency ITA, which provided training and employment opportunities for workers made redundant in the declining steel industry. 
  4. ^ profile – Emma Harrison BBC South Yorkshire
  5. ^ "Britain's new 'family champion'". BBC News. 10 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Syal, Rajeev (28 February 2012). "Emma Harrison appointment comes under fresh scrutiny". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Hughes, Mark; Mason, Rowena (23 February 2012). "David Cameron's 'back to work' tsar Emma Harrison quits amid fraud allegations". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  8. ^ The Independent, 23 February 2012
  9. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (29 February 2012). "Cameron orders inquiry into how back-to-work tsar paid £8.6m from taxpayer was ever appointed in the first place". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Four former staff of Cameron's 'back to work' tsar arrested in major escalation of fraud inquiry The Daily Telegraph
  11. ^ a b Groves, Jason; Eccles, Louise (10 February 2012). "Cameron's 'families tsar' paid herself £8.6m from firm that survives on state contracts despite 'abysmal' record". This is Money. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "A4e is another example of Fat Cats getting richer at the poor's expense". Daily Mirror. 26 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Boffey, Daniel; Helm, Toby (25 February 2012). "Welfare boss Emma Harrison made a pile renting out her stately home to A4E". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Emma Harrison quits as chairman of A4e welfare-to-work firm". BBC News. 24 February 2012. 
  15. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3020303/Government-work-contractors-forged-signatures-taxpayers-300-000-jailed-total-15-years.html
  16. ^ The Secret Millionaire – Emma Harrison Channel 4
  17. ^ a b Bond, Chris (2 January 2007). "When millionaire Emma found herself scrubbing pub floors in Dagenham". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 7. 
  19. ^ Butt, Simon (27 November 2007). "High Achievers Honoured By University of Derby Buxton". University of Derby. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  20. ^ http://www.brad.ac.uk/admin/pr/pressreleases/2009/hon-grads-dec.php
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 November 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c "Alumni Lecture". University of Bradford. 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 

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