Further calls for clarity over Remploy’s future

Workers at Leven's Remploy Factory on previous industrial action.
Workers at Leven's Remploy Factory on previous industrial action.
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LEVEN’S MP is calling on the Government to say when an announcement is intended on the closure-threatened Remploy Marine factory in the town.

In a letter to Esther McVey, the new Minister for Disabled People, Lindsay Roy said the local employees, and their colleagues in Cowdenbeath, were “anxious and stressed” about their future prospects, as they believed their business was still commercially viable.

Earlier this year, the Government acted – wrongly in Mr Roy’s opinion – on the controversial Sayce Report, which recommended disabled workers would be better served in mainstream employment rather than a supported environment, such as Remploy.

It split the 54 Remploy factories into two groups, placing 36 in stage one and the remaining 18, including Leven and Cowdenbeath – where the 65 workers make high-quality life jackets and other marine safety aids – in stage two.

It was decided to close 27 premises in stage one, with the remaining nine submitting business plans.

The stage two sites were reckoned to have a better chance of attracting private investment and their viability is currently being assessed.

Mr Roy said: ‘’I was told a decision would be made in the autumn but we are now well into October and there has been no announcement regarding phase two applications of interest.

‘’I have written to the Minister to express my extreme disappointment and have pointed out the anxiety and stress being felt by the workers.

‘’I share that concern and have urged Esther McVey to give an indication of the likely timing of any announcement, so I can reassure the staff that real progress is being made.’’

Mr Roy added: ‘’Any closure of the Leven Remploy factory would have a profound impact on the workforce and local communities, and they have my full support.”

This week, a spokesman for the Departmen of Work and Pensions told the Mail: “We have followed the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce to use the £320m protected budget for disability employment more effectively, to support more disabled people into mainstream jobs instead of loss-making segregated factories.

“We are working with the Remploy board to identify if it is possible that the remaining factory businesses in stage two can be freed from Government control and, if so, how this might be achieved.

“A further announcement will be made shortly.”