By Nicholas Pierce
The government has announced plans to close two in three Remploy sheltered factories for disabled workers, which is expected to result in the loss of more than 1700 jobs.
The decision was reached after ministers commissioned a review of the issue of employment for disabled people led by Liz Sayce, chief executive of charity Disability Rights UK and an outspoken critic of sheltered employment.
Maria Miller, minister for disabled people , said that there was an “overwhelming consensus” from public consultation on the proposals that the £320 million spent by the government on disability employment should be diverted from institutions like Remploy “so more disabled people can work in mainstream employment rather than government-funded segregated factories.”
Although most disability charities are said to support the idea, the move has received strong criticism from trade unions and Labour MPs.
National Secretary of GMB Phil Davies described the policy as “an attack on the most vulnerable members of our society.”
He went on to blame a lack of support from the government for the fact that only a handful of those still open break even on their operations, which was cited as justification for these reforms by the coalition.