Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain has admitted that the disabled workers whose jobs he saved still face an uncertain future.
Hain told Personnel Today that keeping 55 of Remploy’s 83 factories open presented a major challenge for the publicly funded organisation, which provides jobs for disabled people.
Trade unions are furious that Hain rubber-stamped the closures proposed by the management at Remploy. But Hain said: “I saved the maximum number of factories. It will be a big stretch to keep those 55 factories open and successful.”
Remploy originally wanted to close 43 factories to focus on placing disabled people into mainstream employment. However, Hain stepped in at the Labour Party Conference to promise that no closures would be made without his go-ahead.
The approved plan, which will keep 15 extra factories open, relies on Remploy raising an extra £163m in sales to the government in the next five years, and cutting costs by £10m by changing working practices.
Hain said: “We will need to lever in a massive 130% increase in public procurement to achieve this. It was the best I could do.
“In addition, Remploy will quadruple the number of disabled people it gets into mainstream employment.”
The GMB union, which led the fight for all factories to remain open, expressed its dismay at Hain’s decision to close 28 of them. General secretary Paul Kenny said: “This government-controlled operation has failed its people, its principles and its purpose.” He said the union would continue to campaign for changes to the Remploy management team.
Disabled people get personalised return-to-work service
A personalised service to help disabled people get into work has been proposed by the government.
Minister for disabled people Anne McGuire last week launched a consultation into plans to help more disabled people find paid employment.
The central policy aim is to enhance the role of disability employment advisers at Jobcentre Plus, so that each individual gets support tailored to their needs.