Employment service Remploy is to be privatised, Employment Minister Esther McVey has announced.
Remploy is currently owned by the government and aims to support disabled people entering mainstream jobs working alongside non-disabled colleagues. It previously ran factories that employed disabled people, but these have been closed or sold off in recent years.
In a written statement, McVey said "a significant stake" in Remploy will be offered for sale to investors aimed at allowing employees to hold "an interest" in the company.
"The department will have a contractual arrangement with the new company to continue Remploy Employment Services' national delivery of Work Choice and other departmental contracts and agreements which are expected to be transferred as part of this process," she said.
"The partner/investor will need to demonstrate the commitment, capacity and capability to continue the delivery of Work Choice and continue to grow the business in line with Remploy's mission.
"Our key priority during this process will be to ensure that Remploy Employment Services becomes an independent sustainable business which continues to support disabled people in finding and remaining in employment."
Remploy sold or closed its remaining factories in 2013 but it is estimated that by March next year Remploy will have supported more than 100,000 disabled and disadvantaged people into work since 2010.
Beth Carruthers, Remploy’s chief executive, said: "Moving out of the public sector will give us the freedom to raise funding to operate in a much more commercial and competitive way than was possible previously.
"Remploy Employment Services staff have a huge passion for the work they do. As joint venture partners they would have a stake in their future and input to the governance and strategic direction of the company.
"This exciting new phase in Remploy’s long history of supporting disabled people gives us the opportunity to grow and innovate and use our commercial freedom to transform the lives of thousands more disabled people."
It is anticipated that all current employees of Remploy Employment Services will transfer to the new company. The government will have a contractual arrangement with the new company to continue national delivery of the Work Choice programme and other Departmental contracts and agreements which are expected to be transferred as part of this process.