Local MP Jon Cruddas says announcement is an “outright attack” on disabled people
The country’s largest specialist employer of people with disabilities and health conditions; Remploy, announced yesterday that it is closing 36 of its 54 factories, with its site in Barking among those listed. The closures, which are expected o cost 1,700 disabled people their jobs, come as a result of the Conservative-led Coalition Government’s view that previous funding for the scheme was too expensive. The Government’s decision to pull the plug on funding for the organisation will be bad news for disabled people in Barking and Dagenham. The closure of Remploy’s Barking factory will result in the loss of employment for 44 local disabled employees.
The decision has already drawn wide criticism from supporters of disabled people, with the general secretary of the Unite union describing it as “barbaric”.
The local Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has also slammed the decision stating; “This is last thing local disabled people need. It is an outright attack on one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The Conservatives promised in 2007 that funding for Remploy would continue. We can now see that for the barefaced lie that it is.”
Amidst all of the accusations, it is perhaps easy to forget the personal stories of those affected. One report stated that workers at one of the Remploy factories to close were said to be in tears on hearing the news.
Remploy factories were established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state, and the organisation has since flourished, becoming the country’s single largest employer of disabled people. Remploy workers are employed in enterprises that vary from furniture and packaging manufacturing to recycling electrical appliances and operating CCTV systems and control rooms.
The factory in Barking is part of Remploy’s Electronics Business, and has drawn praise for its innovative work within the industry. The site had grown to a size where it was capable of employing over 50 people, offering essential opportunities to local people with disabilities. All of these are now expected to lose their jobs.
Local MP Jon Cruddas, who visited the factory recently, has challenged the Government’s claim that it will offer help to those made redundant to get them back into work within the wider economy. He said; “Dagenham and Rainham now has an unemployment rate nearly 60% above the national average. There are hundreds and thousands of people fighting for a tiny pool of jobs. Seriously, what genuine chance does an unemployed disabled person stand in finding work? This Conservative-led Coalition Government have pulled the mat from under their feet, the decision is a disgrace."