The first Strategic Advisory Board meeting was attended by senior stakeholders with an interest in the future of Remploy in Wales. These include the WLGA, Social Firms Wales, the Wales Co-operative Centre, the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, Dacey Limited, Community Housing Cymru, RCT Homes, Beacon Creative Wales Ltd, and Remploy Limited (Baglan).
Following the Sayce Review, the UK Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller accepted proposals for the closure of seven out of nine Remploy factories in Wales— in Aberdare, Abertillery, Bridgend, Croespenmaen, Merthyr, Swansea and Wrexham, with 272 disabled workers affected. Factories in Porth and in Neath are considered to be potentially viable.
At today’s meeting it was decided that Welsh Government would continue to press for a constructive dialogue with the UK Government, whilst also working with stakeholders in Wales to explore a range of issues and options, with the main goal of maintaining employment in Wales.
The Minister said:
“We remain profoundly disappointed with the decision by the UK Government to reduce its current subsidy to Remploy, resulting in the closure of factories here in Wales.
“I have asked Maria Miller to devolve funding for Remploy factories in Wales for the next three years and the First Minister has written to the Prime Minister to welcome his commitment to consider proposals to devolve responsibility for Remploy factories to Wales. We will continue to apply pressure to the UK government on this matter.
“Although it is for the UK Government not the Welsh Government to bear the responsibility for its decision on Remploy we will not stand by and see jobs lost unnecessarily in Wales. Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK who carried out the review has said herself that it is important that factories should be given a chance to show if they can be viable.
“We have said that we will work with Remploy, the unions and other interested parties - of which there are many - to see if we can find a viable option for the workers in Wales using the powers available to us. This meeting is the first part of this process.”