Earlier this year it was announced that Remploy’s Edinburgh factory was among 36 that the supported employment provider would have to close following the withdrawal of Government funding.
However, it was revealed this week that Edinburgh is among nine factories to have attracted a potential outside bidder meaning that there may still be hope to save the factory.
Under the conditions set by Remploy for potential bidders for the Edinburgh factory, prospective owners were required to demonstrate how they would continue to provide employment for disabled people while also delivering a clear plan to make a success of the business.
At this stage, the business plan for Edinburgh has been accepted but it will not be until later in the year that we receive confirmation on whether the final bid is successful.
Employees at Remploy in Edinburgh are working to fulfil contracts producing components for high-end consumer electronics, providing document management and scanning services and providing solutions to packaging needs.
These are real jobs, offering people with a range of abilities the opportunity to develop new skills and build confidence in a way that simply would not be available in mainstream employment.
While there is some hope for staff in Edinburgh, I am bitterly disappointed for the 1,421 jobs that are still at risk at the 27 remaining factories.
The UK Government has put an £8m funding package in place to provide workers with specialist individual support to get mainstream employment. While I fully support moves to ensure that people are not discriminated against in the job market on the basis of disability I continue to believe that supported employment has a vital role to play.
This is particularly so during tough economic times when the barriers to employment faced by disabled people are considerable.