The Welfare Reform Bill has been law for just a week, and the government’s first callous act is to throw hundreds of disabled people straight on the dole.
Two-thirds of Remploy factories will now be shut and their workers, thrown into the market-place with just £2,500 to help them get another job, with no guarantees about the factories that are briefly spared.
It is frankly outrageous that the government has tried to smuggle out the news on the day of the Parliament’s celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
We will be demanding that ministers are summoned to the House of Commons to explain themselves.
Quite simply this is the wrong plan at the wrong time. Unemployment is going through the roof. Back to work schemes are sinking under the weight of spiralling unemployment. And the government thinks this is a good time to sack disabled workers.
In 2007, Chris Grayling, said in Parliament;
‘Let me assure Remploy and its employees that the next conservative government will continue the process of identifying additional potential procurement opportunities for them and the public sector workforce’.
Now we know the truth. People with disabilities will never trust a word they say again.
Labour has demanded answers to ten key questions:
1. When will the factories start closing?
2. Why are workers being given only 90 days to plan their future?
3. How many staff will be made compulsorily redundant?
4. Will the government guarantee that Remploy’s budgets will now be ring-fenced to help people with disabilities back to work?
5. What is the future of the Remploy company? Is it the government’s policy to in effect close it down?
6. Specifically, what is the support that will be given to workers to get another job?
7. What are the total costs of shutting down the Remploy factories, including redundancies and costs of settling suppliers
8. What are the redundancy terms for workers?
9. Will workers’ rights to pensions they have paid for be protected?
10. Why did no minister offer to come to the House of Commons to make a statement?
Labour has been consistently pressing the government for action on this. Anne McGuire Westminster Hall debate
Peter Hain’s statement on the future of Remploy was made on the floor of the House. Chris Grayling’s said in Parliament; ‘Let me assure Remploy and its employees tht the next conservative government will continue the process of identifying additional potential procurement opporiutunieis for them and the public sector workforce’. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm071129/debtext/71129-0006.htm