A Clydebank factory could be scrapped after the UK Government announced changes to its strategy for helping disabled people find employment.
Remploy was set up in 1945 by then Minister for Labour Ernest Bevin to provide work for disabled ex-miners and those wounded in the Second World War. It has become a major employer with factories across the UK, including eight in Scotland.
On Wednesday, March 6, Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller told the House of Commons closing some of the factories would allow funds to be “used for more effective and proven employment programmes, such as Access to Work.”
Four Scottish factories – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Wishaw and Springburn – are among 36 set to close. The Clydebank factory is not set to be scrapped, however it was listed as a target for ‘further consideration’, causing workers to fear for their futures.
MSP Gil Paterson, the SNP representative for Clydebank and Milngavie, said: “Rather than spending money to close Remploy factories as the London Government will now have to do, this money should have been used to invest in the great work and many workers who will now be thrown on the scrapheap.
“Thankfully Clydebank has been spared the axe and I have nothing but praise for the work that is undertaken there. The high-quality protective clothing produced there is second to none and must be seen as a valuable asset to the manufacturing industry.
“I would ask local employers to always make companies such as Remploy their first port of call when awarding business, and councils should examine their procurement processes to ensure Remploy receives their support whenever possible – this would give them a much-needed boost and restore the confidence of the workforce.”
The Coalition Government decided to close the factories as part of welfare reforms after a review found more cost-effective ways of increasing disabled people’s access to work. A spokesman said providing a single Remploy worker with a job costs the taxpayer £25,000 per year, compared to less than £3,000 to support a disabled person in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme.
Liz Sayce, the chief executive of Disability Rights UK, authored the government review. She explained the reasoning for shifting funding from Remploy to mainstream employers: “The Access to Work programme must expand. We currently face a crisis of disabled youth unemployment – being ‘not in education, employment or training’ is twice as common amongst young disabled people, as non-disabled.
“Without individualised employment support there is a real risk they will become a lost generation, out of work for life, and that others will slip out of work unnecessarily. Access to Work is popular with those who use it and cost-effective, but it is widely unknown. With reform and vigorous promotion it could transform disabled people’s opportunities.”
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