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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2012): Services for the disabled - UK

Community, not ghetto: Remploy workers reject claims of segregation

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Apr. 12th 2012, p. 17

The government claimed it could no longer bear the 68m of annual losses racked up by the 54 Remploy sheltered factories. So 36 sites, including Barking - where management said losses last year were 1.6m - were to shut. The coalition argued that Remploy was now a relic of bygone nationalised age. Ministers said the state was paying 25,000 a year to keep each disabled person in a job in Remploy factories, and insisted that money would be better used to fund schemes that would help disabled people retrain, fund specialist equipment to allow them to work, or pay for specialist help to keep them in mainstream jobs. The trade unions disputed this analysis. In Barking, Unite's Julie Haynes said the electronics division was in line for a 1m order to assemble Raspberry Pi, the credit card-sized computer for schools, until the ministerial announcement of its closure. The unions argued that Remploy factories made chemical warfare suits for troops in Afghanistan, produced parts for Jaguar cars, and made most of the furniture for schools and libraries.

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