The Government is considering cuts to the state-sponsored employment service for disabled workers, with fears that the move could result in the loss of over 500 jobs in Yorkshire alone.
Remploy workers at the Manchester Road factory in Bolton took to the streets in protest at the planned cuts on Saturday.
Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi, who is backing the campaign to prevent the cuts, went to show her support on Thursday August 18. Mrs Qureshi was also in Victoria Square at the weekend, collecting signatures with Remploy workers.
Disabled workers at two Remploy factories in Croespenmaen and Cwmtillery, Wales, say they fear for their jobs after the report was published recommended removing the factories’ financial support. The report, carried out this June by Liz Sayce, chief executive of disability rights charity Radar, said it cost on average £25,000 a year to keep a Remploy worker in a job.
The report suggested that money might be better spent supporting disabled people to find work in the commercial sector.
If action was taken and factories were closed, they would be opened up for private companies to run or closed and staff supported to find alternative employment.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that no concrete decisions had been made about the future of Remploy. They said that they would “consult on the recommendations put forward by Liz Sayce,” and made it clear that is all the DWP is doing for the time being. “The Sayce review is about spending money differently, not cutting it,” the spokesperson added.
Although there has been no official announcement by the Government on cuts, union representatives from GMB have said that they are concerned about workers being “left on the scrap heap”.
Last year, 2,300 people were employed at Remploy’s 54 factories across the UK, with disabilities ranging from blindness and Down’s syndrome to depression and learning difficulties.
Remploy was originally set up in the 1940s to offer sheltered and safe work for people with disabilities.