Ministers accused of 'cruelty' after announcing plans to close 15 Remploy factories for disabled workers with the loss of 900 jobs

Posts will be axed in moves to close or sell off  plants and divert cash into other work programmes

Ministers have been accused of cruelty and callousness after they announced plans to shut 15 factories for disabled workers with the loss of nearly 900 jobs.

The posts will be axed in moves to close or sell off Remploy plants - which were set up after the Second World War to provide sheltered employment for the disabled - and divert cash into other work programmes.

Earlier this year the Government announced that 36 of its factories were to close, with more than 1,000 redundancies, and buyers would be sought for the remaining 18.

Today it sealed the fate of 15 plants which manufacture as diverse products as furniture, vehicle head-rests and life-jackets. Remploy also has businesses recycling electrical goods and operating CCTV systems.

The latest announcement means another 875 Remploy staff, including 682 disabled people, face compulsory redundancy, some of whom learnt the news by email.

The policy has been driven by a Government-commissioned report which concluded that the money used to subsidise Remploy could be better used to help the disabled find mainstream jobs.

But unions condemned the decision as heartless in the run-up to Christmas and warned the disabled faced particular problems finding work in the current economic climate.

Each employee already made redundant has been offered help from an £8m “tailored support” package, including careers guidance advice from a caseworker. However, Esther McVey, the disabilities minister, told The Independent this week that only 63 former employees had found other work.

Eight of the latest plants facing closure are in England (Huddersfield, Sheffield, Blackburn, Norwich, Portsmouth, Heywood, Burnley and Sunderland) and two are in south Wales (Neath and Porth).

All five remaining Remploy factories in Scotland – those in Leven, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank – will close.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: “This is a heartless decision by a government that has shown very little interest in protecting the livelihoods of severely-disabled people who need support in and out of work.”

Phil Davies, of the GMB union, said: “This is devastating news but not untypical from this uncaring government who cannot be relied on to protect the vulnerable. To make this announcement three weeks before Christmas is despicable.”

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, said: “The timing is callous so close to Christmas, when ministers had previously said the funding for those sites due to close or be sold off in 2013 was secure until August and September next year.”

Irshad Mohammed, 54, who was made redundant in October after 35 years working at Remploy’s factory in Acton, west London, said he was struggling to find work.

“Many of my old colleagues have little hope they will ever find jobs on the outside. By closing Remploy factories, the Government went for people at the bottom who were willing to work.”

He added: “With so many people out of work, why would a manager give me a job when he has 20 young able-bodied people going for the same job?”

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our priority throughout is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.”

He added that the £320 million budget for disability employment services had been ringfenced.

The only Remploy employees who earned a reprieve make automotive products in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby. Their factories are judged to be viable and outside buyers will be sought for them.

Case study

Irshad Mohammed, 54, from west London, worked for 35 years at the Remploy factory in Acton. He was made redundant in October and, despite benefiting from the Government’s support package, is yet to find new employment.

“The future looks very bleak for Remploy workers, whatever the promise the Government makes.  I was the last man to finish work at the Acton Remploy factory on 27 October. A few people were left to remove the furniture and shut the place up. It’s very sad. The employees were heartbroken. For some people, their only friends were at Remploy and it was more than just a job.

Many of my old colleagues have little hope that they will ever find jobs on the outside.  Closing the Remploy factories, the Government went for people at the bottom who were willing to work and were given no choice. People are really down. The Government assigned me a caseworker and we have met twice. She has been helpful but I haven’t found work yet. It is easy to say on a piece of paper that they will help us find work elsewhere, but it won’t happen. With so many people out of work, why would a manager give me a job when he has 20 young able-bodied people going for the same job?”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015