Saturday, 10 March 2012


I’ve been mulling over the news for a few days now.

This week, the Government announced that it is to close of 36 of its 54 Remploy factories, putting more than 1,700 jobs at risk. These are state-owned businesses which offer employment for people with disabilities.

These ‘sheltered factories’ are being shut down because it is felt that disabled people don’t want to work in such ‘segregated’ and ‘outdated’ employment. They operate at a loss, because it is expensive to provide an environment in which people with a wide range of disabilities can work in a variety of jobs.
The business is built around their needs. Each worker is heavily subsidised by the state. 

Many disability charities support the move. It’s hoped the Government’s Access To Work programme, which gives advice and support to disabled people and employers if a disabled person’s health or disability affects their ability to work, will be ‘better value’. 

The aim is that disabled people will be happier and more fulfilled if they are in an integrated working environment, doing valued jobs alongside other members of society.

It’s a nice idea.

Unfortunately, I think in many cases, it’s a pie-in-the-sky, unworkable, utopian fantasy.

I hope that when my daughter grows up she can do some form of work. I want her to feel useful and respected and feel proud of doing her share as part of our community.

I’m under no illusion that this will be easy.

She will need support. She’ll need a lot of supervision: someone helping her focus on tasks, someone making sure she is safe, someone monitoring her access to food.

I can’t see the [average of] £2,900 which could be allocated to her through the Access To Work being a terribly huge incentive to an employer to take her on.

Of course this can be a help to some people. 

Battles have been fought and fought hard for disabled people to be included in mainstream life. 

But inclusion isn’t always the best option.

My girl has really blossomed in the special school environment. And yet some people would say that it’s wrong to ‘segregate’ disabled children like this.

In fact, her school is very much involved in the community, and has close links and partnerships with mainstream schools in the town.

A bit like Remploy factories, who work with local businesses and communities and give many disabled people pride and respect that I genuinely fear they will struggle to achieve in the profit-driven world of the free market.

There are good employers out there. Many firms give excellent support to their workers who suffer ill health or develop a disability. Funnily enough, businesses aren’t all evil, just like people on benefits aren’t all scroungers.

But I cannot believe that in the current economic climate, with so many people chasing so few jobs, that a couple of grand is going to help persuade employers to take on a disabled worker with complex needs.

I believe that this is, when all’s said and done, another cost-cutting exercise. 

Can anyone explain to me why the disabled are high up on the list of people who need to bear the brunt of Government cuts?

It feels like they’ve been mugged already. And now this is kicking them when they’re down.

Meanwhile, the ‘unfairness’ of a mansion tax continues to be debated.

I mean, really. For fuck’s sake.

Song is Eels - All In A Day's Work

    1 comment:

    1. As you know perfectly well yourself, you've asked a question that no right minded human being or politician could possibly answer without squirming. That your daughter will grow up to feel useful, respected and feel proud of doing her share as part of our community is not in doubt: she's got you as a mother. But you have a right to be worried about others who will, without doubt, fall through the cracks.