Remploy (United Kingdom Government Response)

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

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Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

Let me make some progress, Ms Scanlon.

Let us imagine for a moment that the plans were for the greater good. I do not believe that they are, but if that was the case, they would need to be actioned at a time that maximised the possibility for Remploy workers to access the mainstream jobs market. Every week, I speak to constituents in Glasgow who are frantically trying to find work. They are finding it increasingly difficult, given the UK austerity cuts and the state of the economy. Unemployment is high, and Tory welfare reforms mean that it might get far higher.

Let us consider Springburn, which is where my local Remploy factory is based. There are already five jobseekers allowance claimants for every job centre vacancy that is advertised. Even the lowest-paid jobs are attracting multiple applicants. However, Citizens Advice Scotland estimates that the number of JSA claimants there is likely to surge by a further 31 per cent because of wider reforms and cuts to disability benefits. It is that jobs market and that environment that Remploy workers in Springburn and beyond will be forced to enter. John Pentland, who has left the chamber, made a similar point about his area.

I am sure that some Remploy workers will carry themselves into mainstream workplaces by demonstrating their numerous skills and aptitude for hard work. Such success would demonstrate the success of Remploy itself and be a strong argument for retaining its factories. If the UK Government is genuinely determined to mainstream people into employment, it should retain Remploy as a gateway institution and social provider to process people into the main workforce.