Empowerment means do what I say
James Purnell has a really strange article in the latest Progress pamphlet. He argues that we need to redistribute power, which I agree with, and give more power to the people who use the welfare state, which I also agree with.
But his example of how to do this is to increase the conditions which people need to meet in order to get support from the government. So people become empowered by, er, having the government or private companies telling them what they have to do and sanctioning them if they don't obey.
What Purnell and other contributors to the pamphlet seem to mean by 'empowerment' is giving power to people so that they are more able to live their lives in ways that government ministers approve of (a theme expanded upon by, amongst others, Alan Milburn and John Hutton). But a key point about empowering people is that it is about precisely the opposite of this - giving people more power to make decisions, even if they are ones that important people like James Purnell disapprove of.