This article is from the May issue of Total Politics
The announcement by Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, that 36 of the remaining 54 Remploy factories will close, is a double poverty whammy, as 1,700 people face redundancy and an uncertain future. Many of these will be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a non-means-tested benefit designed to assist people with disabilities to live life to the full. The government’s intention is to replace DLA with a Personal Independence Payment, which, in effect, will be a cut, and fewer people will receive it.
Then what happens to the means-tested benefits? Which will redundant Remploy workers get? If they’re deemed fit for work, they’ll get jobseeker’s allowance; if not, they’ll go onto Employment Support Allowance. Every disabled Remploy employee, having been made redundant, will be required to undertake the much-maligned Medical Assessment and Work Capability Assessment, and all of them will be assessed as being capable of working in mainstream occupation, otherwise the whole object of the closure will be defeated. It will be interesting to see how many lose non-means-tested benefits during medical assessments.
The government will paint a rosy picture: monies saved by Remploy factories’ closure will be used to assist the redundant employees to gain employment in the mainstream. But these aren’t the first Remploy factories to shut; in May 2007 the previous government closed 18 out of 83 Remploy factories, making 2,200 redundant. And research indicates that only 52 out of 234 employees made redundant then, and who were tracked and supported, had found permanent work 18 months later.
It’s difficult to see Maria Miller’s decision as anything other than a cost-cutting exercise in which the disabled are, yet again, sacrificed by this uncaring coalition government.
Arfon Jones blogs at wrecsamplaid.blogspot.com