Remploy was much more than just a workplace

It’s extremely sad news this week that 36 Remploy factories are to be closed by the Government with a loss of 1,752 jobs, including 60 jobs locally here in Leeds.

When I visited the local factory a couple of months back with the GMB I met people from Morley who work there and was struck by the great support that was available. The Remploy staff I met had a range of disabilities and many had struggled and suffered bullying for years in mainstream employment before they found the sanctuary and support of Remploy. This was much more than just a workplace. There are many much wider benefits for society too. The Government have some serious questions to answer, how much it is costing to close down the factory in Leeds and what support will local workers be given to find other jobs?

I wrote to Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith last summer and again in December asking serious questions about the Government’s review of Remploy and its economic benefits.

I then visited the factory in December last year with regional representatives from the GMB union and met with constituents who work there, including Stephen Cook. The group also came down to Parliament to watch the Westminster Hall debate on Remploy and I also met them in my Westminster Office too. After our meetings I contacted Iain Duncan Smith again to ask further questions about the Government’s plans for Remploy.

Meeting Steven Cook, long-standing staffer at Remploy Leeds with Regional GMB Secretary, Tim Roache

Meeting Steven Cook, long-standing staffer at Remploy Leeds with Regional GMB Secretary, Tim Roache

 I asked how decisions about the viability of individual Remploy Businesses would be made.  

 In his reply, Iain Duncan Smith said,

 “The Government needs to consider wisely how it spends taxpayers money to support disabled people into employment. The Sayce review of specialist employment support for disabled people is not about cutting money, but about spending it more effectively.”

 I also asked about the support that Remploy Factories would be offered to become successful businesses.

Iain Duncan Smith told me,

“The Sayce Report suggests that Remploy businesses should be reformed and freed from government control, and that employees in Enterprise Businesses are offered expert entrepreneurial and business support to develop independent businesses where possible…”

Now the Government have taken the decision to close 36 factories, including our local Remploy factory in Leeds, giving only 90 days for people to consider other plans for their futures. 

I am now writing to the Government once again to ask:

  • How many staff will be made compulsorily redundant?
  • Why are workers being given only 90 days to plan their future?
  • Will the government ring-fence Remploy budgets to help people with disabilities back to work?
  • Specifically, what is the support that will be given to workers to get another job?
  • What are the total costs of shutting down the Remploy factories, including redundancies and costs of settling suppliers
  • What are the redundancy and pension terms for local workers in Leeds? 
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Posted March 9th, 2012 by Ed