REMPLOY bills itself as the UK’s leading provider of employment services for people with disabilities. In the wake of government cuts to funding, the company is closing its contested Factories is re-establishing itself as yet another support mechanism for both Jobseekers and potential employers alike. They claim to have supported more than 20,000 people to find, and remain in, employment in 2010/11. Note the emphasis on “finding” work and “remaining in” employment (which works well given the catastrophic failures of A4E doing similar work as a Provider of outsourced government unemployment support).
Many Disability Campaigners, myself included, and various segments of the media have accused the government of diverting funds that should go into keeping open Remploy factories. The culprit has been named and shamed as the Department of Pensions “Access to Work” programme for disabled people returning to work (aka “welfare to work”).
Access to Work is yet another government programme under the auspices of the DWP’s JobCentre Plus.
Tweet from ITV Reporter Laura Kuenssberg
What few of us had yet to realise is that in December of 2011, Remploy was awarded the tender for a new UK-wide Access To Work programme to support those of us with mental health conditions back into work.
DWP confirm REMPLOY Tender - Dec'11: mental health support in Access to Work Programme
REMPLOY confirm DWP Access to Work Tender same day as DWP announcemen. 5th tDec'11
source: REMPLOY (pls click to review all details not included in screenshot)
I only discovered this in the last two weeks myself, after my public meltdown after being forced off ESA (a saga itself and the aftermath of which are worthy of their own posts). I am now an Access to Work “customer” forced to deal with a number of Third Party Service Providers of which REMPLOY is only one and the experience is not dissimilar to those under A4E and other external providers whilst receiving Employment Support Allowance and /or Jobseeker’s Allowance. Whenever I mention the factories closing,
#REMPLOY staff always claim to know nothing about it & mention the new #mhuk contract.
According to the DWP Access to Work is available to anyone who is:
- in a paid job
- unemployed and about to start a job
- unemployed and about to start a Work Trial
and your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job.
Your disability or health condition may not have a big effect on what you do each day, but may have a long-term effect on how well you can do your job.
So that Employers don’t suffer too much inconvenience or financial hardship the programme will cover the cost of suitable adaptations for their workplace.
Your employer’s responsibilities
Once your adviser has decided on the package of support they feel is appropriate, they will seek formal approval of their recommendations from Jobcentre Plus. You and your employer will then receive a letter informing you of the approved level of support and the grant available.
It is the responsibility of your employer – or you, if you are self-employed – to arrange the agreed support and buy the necessary equipment. Your employer can then claim repayment of the approved costs from Access to Work.
Access to Work details on DirectGov
source: DirectGov (pls click to review all details not included in screenshot)
For those in the Employers’ Forum on Disability who welcomed government implementation of the Sayce Review and complained that REMPLOY Factories were just another form of social and professional isolation for disabled people, it seems that this new Mental Health Support service within the already established Access to Work framework is the panacea to those particular ills. This new REMPLOY contract with Access to Work was most likely the sweetener that made it very easy for the REMPLOY Board to propose closing of 36 of its 54 factories thereby putting 1,700 disabled people out of work – and into the power of JobCentre Plus. After all, the 18 months of “support” for ex-REMPLOY employees that Disability Minister Maria Miller and other politicians continue to over-sell is the same that made the likes of A4E’s Emma Harrison a millionairess with a Stately Home, in spite of fraud accusations and a service that didn’t deliver on it’s “Benefits Buster” promises.
The DWP have killed two birds with one Sayce Review stone – Liz Sayce had called for more funding to be put into Access to Work and for REMPLOY to be modernised. Forcing disabled people into mainstream employment, regardless of suitability albeit with “support” for our own good, is quite a progressive neo-liberal move indeed.