From the TUC

Saving Our Safety Net Fact of the Week: Most Remploy workers never got another job

16 Jan 2015, by in Society & Welfare

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.

2 Responses to Saving Our Safety Net Fact of the Week: Most Remploy workers never got another job

  1. George
    Jan 16th 2015, 5:40 pm

    On the 14th October last year following Lord Freud’s infamous remarks on disabled people and the minimum wage you wrote a plausible blog post showing how disabled people’s pay did not need to be below the market rate to obtain and maintain employment.

    Today you write a post showing that disabled people’s wages do need to be below the market rate to maintain or obtain employment by showing the effect of the removal of employment subsidy.

    I’m confused.

  2. Richard Exell

    Jan 16th 2015, 6:42 pm

    Thanks for your comment, George. My post on Lord Freud’s comments pointed out that disabled workers don’t need to be excluded from the NMW – the gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s employment rates shrank after the introduction of the minimum wage. Today’s post argues that these particular jobs needed a subsidy, rather than disabled people. There was nothing new about this, the jobs had always been subsidised. Take the subsidy away and the people who had been doing those jobs found it hard to get new jobs – lots of people who are made redundant find this, whether they are disabled or not.
    My grounds for opposing the ending of the subsidy to Remploy factories weren’t that these workers could only get jobs if they were subsidised, but that the jobs they had would be lost.
    That’s the basis on which I support all workers facing redundancies.