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?”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

HR Administration Manager - Hounslow, West London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Administration Manager...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment