Photo by Francis McKee (Creative Commons)
Saving Our Safety Net Fact of the Week: Most Remploy workers never got another job
In 2012 the government closed down the subsidy for disabled workers in more than fifty Remploy factories around the country. By September 2013 all but three had closed; the GMB estimates that 2,700 workers lost their jobs. Some of those weren’t disabled; the House of Commons library estimates “2,000 disabled former Remploy workers were made redundant as a result of factory closures.”
When she announced the withdrawal of the subsidy Maria Miller, the then minister for disabled people, said “we are absolutely committed to supporting Remploy employees” and spoke of a “comprehensive personalised package of support” including a Personal Case Worker.
It hasn’t been very successful. Last year, the GMB (largest union at Remploy) surveyed ex-Remploy workers and found that 52.8 per cent of them still didn’t have a job and a further 23.1 per cent were “retired” (far more than the proportion who had reached state pension age). Just one in four were in employment.
Of those in work, 45.7 per cent were working fewer hours than they had at Remploy, confirming the anecdotal evidence that many of the people who were working had only been able to get part-time jobs. 59.5 per cent said their pay was worse, 64.7 per cent said benefits (like pensions and holidays) were worse, and 69 per cent said they did not prefer their new job to their Remploy job.
Well, you might say that only the disaffected would reply to a union survey. But in December a Parliamentary Question from Pamela Nash MP to the new disability minister Mark Harper revealed:
Latest figures show that 1,245 former Remploy disabled workers (over 80 per cent) of the 1,507 people who were made redundant and had been supported by a Personal Case Worker were in work and/or had accessed Work Choice support. A total of 1058 jobs have been found for disabled former employees and 774 are currently in work.
Note the careful wording, not all the people made redundant were “supported by a Personal Case Worker”. A year after the last redundancies, just 774 were in work, about 39 per cent of the disabled people who lost their jobs.