Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has proposed to close 36 of the 54 factories in operation under Remploy – leading to over 1,500 job losses. The former leader of the Tories asked: “Is it a kindness to stick people in a factory where they are not doing any work at all.”
He went on to say: “Just making cups of coffee? That goes on. That is not kind. I promise you this is better. It was a balance between, ‘How much do I want to spend keeping people in Remploy factories not producing stuff?’ versus getting people into proper jobs.”
His comments were met with harsh criticism from people in and outside of Remploy.
Remploy worker Phil Brannan said: “The man is nothing but a bully-boy moron. He’s a bully boy because he is determined for ideological reasons to push these closures through, and a moron because his mind will never be open enough to assess the good that Remploy does.”
One government spokesman said yesterday the best way to help disabled people into work was “not to hide them away in factories,” and that the decision was “not taken lightly”.
Remploy was set up after World War II to provide jobs for people with disability. Sites at Ashington, Cleator Moor, Gateshead, Newcastle and Spennymoor face closure.