Remploy (United Kingdom Government Response)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2012.

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Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

I wish that Mr Fraser had echoed my tone. The point about Mr Hain’s review was that it absolutely followed the model that I have set out. It considered the difficulties of modernising Remploy, bringing it up to date and making it more sustainable in today’s environment, while maintaining a secure future. It was all about modernising Remploy factories and sustaining their future. There was an investment of £550 million and a five-year programme, not the 12-week redundancy notice that we have now. I hope that Mr Fraser will start his speech with an apology for the anxiety that that has caused.

Does anyone in the chamber need to be reminded of the importance of employment to not only people’s income and standard of living, but their self-esteem, health, education and prospects, and their hopes and dreams for the future? Yes, we should try to improve the efficiency within Remploy—lots of suggestions for that have been made by the trade unions and others—but to make decisions about the future of the factories simply on the basis of their supposed profitability misses the point of the social and economic costs of their closure. The vast majority of former employees—more than 80 per cent—who took voluntary redundancy from Remploy three years ago are still unemployed and claiming benefits.