Remploy rescue bid

Remploy Factory, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven.
Remploy Factory, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven.

THE campaign to save Leven’s Remploy has stepped up a gear after a three-party rescue bid was proposed at the weekend.

Fife’s three Labour MPs have called on Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith, Scottish Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing and Fife Council Leader Alex Rowley to attract potential buyers to the ailing firm.

MP Gordon Brown said: “We need the three parties who can help fund a rescue to come together, to pool their commitments and resources, so that the UK Government raises its current offer of £6,400 per disabled employee over three years and the Scottish Government raises its 18 month maximum of £5,000 per disabled worker.

“Even taken together, these offers are not enough to wipe out the annual deficits overnight. The Fife factories (Leven and Cowdenbeath) can be viable in a short period but they need more time.”

Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, is also to visit Leven’s Remploy factory on February 4.

Local MP Lindsay Roy, who spoke in a Commons debate last week outlining a plan to prevent closure and redundancies, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “It is very encouraging. I am sure she will be highly impressed.

“I believe that Gordon, Thomas and myself made a compelling case for Remploy in Leven to be spared.

“It has full order books, have slashed its losses and has the potential to sell many more of the top-quality lifejackets it produces.

“There have already been expressions of interest from the private sector, but the Government must give the workers a chance.

“The amount of money being offered in transitional support is not nearly enough and we will be stressing that yet again to Esther McVey when she comes to Fife.”

Despite having full order books, the factories in Leven and Cowdenbeath lost £800,000 last year but Labour MPs believe this could be eliminated in only two years - with the right financial support.

Two expressions of interest have been lodged by prospective buyers – both parties have been interviewed by MPs.

Details are shrouded in commercial confidentiality but a Fife businessman is rumoured to be involved.