Seven Remploy Factories with 272 Disabled Workers to Close; SUBSIDY OF Pounds 22,700 A PERSON 'COULD BE BETTER SPENT'
Byline: MATT WITHERS
UP to 272 disabled people in Wales are set to lose their jobs after the UK Government yesterday announced seven of the nation's nine Remploy factories are to close.
More than half of the organisation's factories, which employ mainly disabled workers are set to close across the UK, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
The decision follows an independent review last year which found that employing 2,800 disabled people through Remploy's factories across the UK cost the Government around pounds 22,700 a 'person.
UK Disabilities Minister Maria Miller said the factories being closed were the least viable and resources would be concentrated on getting disabled people into "mainstream employment".
But the Welsh Government said the cuts had hit Wales disproportionately and it would explore what could be done to keep the factories open.
Remploy was set up under the 1944 Disabled Persons Employment Act by the English trade union leader Ernest Bevin. Its first factory was set up in Wales in Bridgend in 1946.
That factory is now among those to close, along with Aberdare, Abertillery, Croespenmaen, Merthyr Tydil, Swansea and Wrexham. Those in Porth and Neath will escape the axe.
Conservative Ms Millar - who herself grew up in Bridgend - told the Western Mail that the aim was to "continue to have specialist disability employment support that can make a real difference getting into work".
She said: "We've taken independent advice as to which organisations could be brought forward to viability in the future, and the decisions have been taken based on that independent advice.
"What we want to do here is make sure that the money that we do have available in these tough economic times is used to best effect to support more disabled people into employment. "In Wales there are many thousands of disabled people who could benefit from support from programmes like Access to Work to be able to get into work and stay in work, but at the moment we're not using our budgets effectively and many of those people therefore don't have that access to support."
The cost of supporting somebody through a Remploy factory is up to pounds 25,000 whereas with Access to Work the UK Government could be supporting four or five individuals into work with the same amount of money, she said. …