On Monday 3rd December, in Cardiff, protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts spelled out their message for International Day of People with Disability on the pavement, in front of the statue of NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan.
Protesters claim that Atos – a private company contracted by the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – has been pressurising many people with their current Work Capability Assessment (for Incapacity Benefit), to seek work who in no-way can or should be asked to; sometimes, seemingly, with dire consequences.
Atos has been also asked to oversea assessments for the new replacement to Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, being brought in in April next year.
New Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, has given assurances about the new tests saying “they could be positive”. Time will tell, but given the previous track record of the DWP and Atos many won’t be expecting much good news soon.
Just to add insult to injury, the UK Coalition Government has announced the closure of a further 10 Remploy Factories out of 18 still left open.
They have chosen to do so via a written statement therefore it has been buried in the news agenda by the Royal pregnancy and the Autumn Statement.
Remploy’s factories, which employ a great number of disabled people, have been whittled down in recent years. Of the remaining 8 plants spread around the UK, 5 more are likely to shut, leaving the remaining 3 to be put up for sale.
This will likely result in 875 job losses with 682 of those being disabled workers.
This means no income tax and NI paid by the workers, more JSA spend for the UK Government as a result and depending on ATOS, other benefit costs on top too. It makes perfect sense really.
The last two remaining manufacturing sites in Wales (Porth, Rhondda and Neath) employing 140 people are at risk from this latest round of closures. Six factories were shut in the principality earlier this year.
However, this morning, the Welsh Government href=”http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/educationandskills/2012/121206remploy/?lang=en target=”new”>approached the Minister for Disabled People to ask her to “devolve the funding, assets, land, buildings and contracts of the two remaining Remploy factories in Wales to the Welsh Government in order to create a viable social enterprise.”
It remains to be seen whether the two remaining factories in Wales are able to continue to be a viable trading entity should the Welsh Government proposal be taken up.
Closures of Welsh factories earlier this year: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-18787887