Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Monday, 10 December 2012

Labour condemns Remploy factory closures

The government should halt the closure of Remploy factories until it produces a report explaining why so few workers previously sacked have found new jobs, Labour has said.

Budget cuts have led to the closure of 34 Remploy sites, which provide employment for disabled people. A further 18 factories are expected to go, meaning an additional 875 Remploy employees, including 682 disabled people, face compulsory redundancy.

Answering an urgent question in the Commons on 10 December 2012, Disabled People's Minister Esther McVey said that of the 960 Remploy staff who lost their jobs and asked for support in the last three months, only 148 have found work.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said the figures were "not good enough".

"This closure programme must stop until we are clear about what has gone wrong in the business of getting sacked Remploy workers back into jobs," he said.

Mr Byrne claimed the government had tried to "sneak out" the news in a written ministerial statement last week rather than making time for a Commons debate on the subject.

Ms McVey accused Mr Byrne of "cheap jibes" and "bluster" arguing that Labour closed down 29 factories in 2008 and did "absolutely nothing" for sacked workers.

She told MPs no final decisions had been taken on the latest proposed closures, and insisted the government wanted to "substantially improve the employment opportunities for all disabled people".

"We are monitoring these people, we are helping them get into work - something the previous government never did when it closed its factories," she added.

Remploy factories were established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state.

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