Remploy (United Kingdom Government Response)

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

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Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

It is my choice to take the member’s intervention and not the member’s choice to intervene. I would like to exercise my choice.

The 2,200 disabled people who are supported by Remploy’s enterprise businesses cost about a fifth of the total budget for specialised disability employment. The cost of each employment place at Remploy is £25,000 a year, compared with an average access to work award of £2,900. I add that Remploy’s factory business operated at a loss of £68.3 million last year.

It is important to say that Chris Price, an independent living development lead at the Glasgow centre for independent living, has said that

“the decision to close Remploy was uncomfortable but the right one ... Remploy was an outmoded and archaic model of disability employment.”

Remploy’s closed-circuit television business is likely to continue, as are Remploy employment services, which have supported more than 20,000 disabled and disadvantaged people into work across England, Scotland and Wales, including people who have the same support needs as Remploy factory employees have. Remploy employment services provide personalised support and work in partnership with more than 2,500 employers.

All Remploy employees who will be affected by the proposals are being given an £8 million comprehensive personalised support package. Any disabled member of staff who is made redundant will receive an offer of individualised support for up to 18 months, to help with the transition from Government-funded sheltered employment to mainstream employment. That was not available at the time of the previous closures of Remploy factories in Great Britain. The support will include access to a personal budget to aid the transition. A community fund will provide grants to disability organisations to support Remploy employees.

The proposals fit in with the Scottish Government’s report “A Working Life for All Disabled People”, which responded to the Equal Opportunities Committee report of December 2006 entitled “Removing Barriers and Creating Opportunities”. The Government’s report says that one principle of supported employment is that

“The job should be in an integrated work place”.

That brings me to my last point, which the minister and Labour members have mentioned. The previous Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Jim Mather, wrote that,

“at the very least, every public body should aim to have ... one” contract under “The Scottish Sustainable Procurement Action Plan”,

“to make the maximum ... use of reserved contracts for supported factories and businesses”.

The Scottish Government must look at what it has done to award such contracts since the warning signals were given in 2006 and 2007.

I move amendment S4M-02431.1, to leave out from “is deeply” to end and insert:

“notes the UK Government’s decision to close 36 Remploy factories in the UK, including four in Scotland, which make significant losses year after year, in line with the recommendations in Getting in, staying in and getting on: Disability employment support fit for the future, a review carried out by Liz Sayce, the head of the UK Disability Forum, which advised that disability employment services should be focused on disabled people themselves rather than institutions so that they can access mainstream jobs in the same way as everyone else; notes that the factories made a loss of £68.3 million last year, which is a cost of £25,000 per employee, and that the UK Government intends to restrict funding to those factories that might have a prospect of a viable future outside government control; welcomes the £8 million package of tailored support that will be available for up to 18 months to help Remploy employees with transition, which is about £2,500 per person and includes a personal case worker with one-on-one sessions, access to a personal budget and existing back-to-work support, including Work Choice, the Work Programme and Access to Work; further notes that many disability groups are behind this move as they regard the supported factory model as outdated; agrees with the UK Government that support should be focussed on individuals through services such as Access to Work rather than segregated institutions such as Remploy so that more disabled people can work in mainstream employment, and commends the work of the Remploy employment service, which has supported over 20,000 disabled and disadvantaged people into work across England, Scotland and Wales and works in partnership with over 2,500 employers.”