By a Newsnet reporter
The UK Government has announced the closure of the five remaining Remploy factories in Scotland leading to redundancies for 154 employees, of whom 137 are disabled.
Announcing the closures in the House of Commons, UK Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said that affected employees would be assisted by an £8m support package to help them find alternative employment.
Ms McVey said that the closures were necessary after the UK Government failed to find suitable buyers for the threatened businesses.
Remploy said that it was forced to close the factories after the UK Government decided that “funding should be used to maximise employment for disabled people through individual support rather than subsidising organisations like Remploy.”
Earlier this year Remploy announced the closure of 36 factories across the UK as a result of the UK Government’s change in policy. The new round of closures affects those factories which Remploy had hoped could be sold as going concerns.
The Scottish factories to be closed are based in Leven, Cowdenbeath, Stirling, Dundee, and Clydebank. As well as the five Scottish Remploy businesses, another four Remploy factories in England will also be closed down.
Reacting to news of the closures, Scottish Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“Throughout the last year I have urged UK ministers to think again about the process they had undertaken and to consider the impact on the employees, many of whom have worked in Remploy all their adult lives.
“At the most recent meeting of the taskforce I set up last year to advise me on Remploy, members highlighted again the very high levels of stress staff were working under and hoped there would be an early resolution to this matter.”
The Enterprise Minister said that the Scottish Government would work with Remploy in an attempt to save as many jobs as possible. It is understood that there is a potential buyer for the Scottish factories.
In a statement on Thursday, Remploy said that a “bid has been received from a social enterprise for a number of the assets of [the Scottish] businesses and which has the potential to create employment opportunities for disabled people”.
Mr Ewing added:
“I spoke with Esther McVey this morning and urged that the potential asset sale be completed as quickly as possible to avoid the loss of any business for the new company that would put further jobs at risk.
“We also agreed that we must redouble our joint efforts to help those affected by this announcement and the earlier closures to find new jobs.”