photo credit: BBC North East Wales via photopin cc

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Most disabled ex-Remploy workers are still out-of-work and looking for a job, according to a new report.

A new report from the GMB union found that over 2,700 disabled ex-Remploy workers are still looking for a job, a year after the final Remploy factories were forced to close.

Remploy closed its three remaining factories in Blackburn, Sheffield and Neath in October 2013, heralding the end of 67 years of providing specialist employment opportunities for thousands of disabled people.

The “callous and thoughtless” coalition government terminated its financial support for Remploy in the wake of a government commissioned report. The report, led by the then chief executive of the disability charity Radar Liz Sayce (now Disability Rights UK), found that the £25,000 a year average subsidy would be better spent supporting disabled people into mainstream employment.

However, GMB’s research has revealed how most of the ex-Remploy staff are still struggling to find jobs, despite a growing jobs market. Those who have been able to find jobs are mostly working shorter hours and for less pay, say GMB.

The recommendations made in the Sayce review to end segregated employment has left many disabled people feeling more “depressed and isolated” than ever before.

Remploy Norwich picket 2012 - photo credit: Roger Blackwell via photopin cc
Remploy Norwich picket 2012 – photo credit: Roger Blackwell via photopin cc

Despite honest intentions (supposedly), closing Remploy factories has resulted in thousands of disabled people being dumped in the dole queue.

Employers could remain reluctant to offer a job to disabled people for as long as they have plenty of able-bodied workers vying for an opportunity. Discrimination against disabled people has never really gone away.

National officer Jerry Nelson said: “It is now one year since the final day of the Remploy factory closures.

“Over 2,700 disabled workers had their lives destroyed by this government’s callous and thoughtless attack on the disabled workers, who relied on their employment to maintain their sense of independence, working in an environment of protected equality.”

“The factories were a sheltered environment and for many of these workers it was their only connection with life outside of their own homes.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabilities said the reports findings show how the Tory-led government has ” has broken its promise to help former Remploy workers”.

She added: “Just one in 20 disabled people have found a job thanks to the failed Work Programme while ministers have cut the number of specialist disability employment advisers in Jobcentres by 20 per cent.

“Labour is committed to delivering justice for former Remploy workers and disabled workers across the country by introducing a Work Support programme to give more disabled people the chance to find a job.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pension said: “Disabled people deserve the same employment choices as everyone else – rather than being consigned to work in segregated and loss-making factories.

“A comprehensive 18-month support package, worth £8m, was provided for those made redundant.

“Since last year, over 80% of ex-Remploy workers have found jobs or are receiving specialist employment support and training to help them find one.”

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Featured photo credit: BBC North East Wales via photopin cc

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