The Government has announced that disability employment services will be re-focused on disabled people themselves, rather than institutions, with the aim of enabling them to access mainstream jobs the same as everyone else.
In addition, the Government said that it will reduce its subsidy to Remploy factories, which provide employment for disabled people, from the beginning of the next financial year. The Government will cease funding factories that make significant losses and restrict funding to those that might have a prospect of a viable future without Government subsidy. The announcement was made in response to last year’s Sayce Review, which looked at how the £320 million protected budget for disability employment could be used more effectively to support thousands more disabled people into work.
In general, the Government welcomed the Sayce Review and supported the central theme that resources should be directed towards disabled people themselves, giving them maximum choice and control in the services they receive. The Government also accepted all of the recommendations on Access to Work – specifically that it is highly cost effective, should be made more widely available and funding should be increased as resources are released from the reform of less effective programmes. Currently, about a fifth of the entire £320 million budget goes on supporting disabled people in Remploy factories. However, nearly all of the factories are loss-making and last year they lost £68.3 million in total. Remploy will consult with its trades unions and management forums on the proposed closure of 36 of its factories that it believes are not commercially viable, and on the potential compulsory redundancy of 1,752 employees directly or indirectly involved with these businesses. The Government has said that all disabled Remploy staff affected by the changes will be guaranteed an £8 million package of tailored support for up 18 months to help with the transition, with around half of this available for personal budgets - about £2,500 per person on average.
Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, said: “We have been absolutely clear that the £320 million budget for specialist disability employment services has been protected. But by spending the money more effectively, we can get thousands more disabled people in work. “That is why we have accepted the recommendation from the Sayce review to refocus support on individuals through services like Access to Work, rather than institutions like Remploy, so more disabled people can work in mainstream employment rather than Government funded segregated factories.” Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: "We support the Government's ambitions to take a closer look at the reality of employment opportunities for disabled people and are pleased with the recommendations it has made, particularly increasing resources into Access to Work. "We know that there are thousands of disabled people who want to work but lack the skills, confidence, experience and opportunity to actually get a job.”