Disabled challenge minister over job support boast

 

The minister in charge of closing Government-supported factories employing disabled staff publicly clashed with one of the staff being made redundant.

Esther McVey was challenged on live television as she defended the decision to shut most of Remploy's remaining plants and insisted workers were receiving specialist employment support.

But Talit Karim, who was made redundant from its Oldham factory this year, accused her of producing misleading figures, exaggerating the Government's success in finding them new jobs.

Ms McVey, minister for the disabled, announced on Thursday that the 875 employees of 15 Remploy factories were being made redundant because the operations were not viable. The cash used to subside them will be switched to helping the disabled into mainstream workplaces.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms McVey insisted her department had been giving "specialist support" to those made redundant and said the number of disabled people who had found work had quadrupled.

Referring to Oldham, she said 109 people with disabilities worked there, of whom 69 had come forward to ask for support and 19 landed new jobs.

But Mr Karim retorted: "I don't know where they get that idea from. There was 115 people when I worked at Remploy Oldham – I actually did the payroll, so I know. And talking to my colleagues on Facebook, she mentioned that about 19 people have got jobs, but I'd say that about five had, so that's untrue."

He said there were no jobs available so help to find work was "unnecessary" and added: "I am seeking help. I have asked for help but I can't find a job."

Ms McVey offered to speak to Mr Karim to see if he needed any support. Pressed to explain why the Government has protected the £320m budget for disability employment services while it was axing disabled people's jobs, she replied: "That is what we are spending to get people into work.

"And 2,200 people worked at the Remploy factories, but there's 6.9 million people of working age with disabilities and what we've got to do is look at what is fair and what is workable for all of those people."

The Department for Work and Pensions later clarified that the Oldham Remploy factory had employed 115 people, of whom 109 were disabled.

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