Graham Duffen, warned of EU risk to Remploy in 1999.
Back in November 1999, Graham Duffen, who at one time worked with disabled people in Remploy, wrote an article for the Euro Realist newsletter in which he warned of the threat to Remploy and employment for the disabled from the European Union. With the news that Remploy is to have a drastic cut to its funding Graham's article is repeated below.
Is the EU good for the disabled?
To explain the above question, I will break down what Britain did for the disabled before the EU came along. In those far off days Britain had two ways of employing people, first the disabled, due to war, were employed in factories set up under a company called Remploy which has factories up and down the country serving ex service men. In latter years they employed some civilian disabled to cover man-power shortages when the vast number of those disabled by war declined. As the factories came under the authority of the ministry of defence they were therefore not subject to many civilian regulations or restrictions.
Britain also has charities big and small such as the Spastics Society, now called Scope, employing hundreds of disabled people working in sheltered work places up and down the country. Over time these work places turned into successful businesses able to compete with real businesses. The government recognised that disabled workforces were not on an equal footing with other businesses and gave them funding designed to equalise the difference in production between the able bodied and the disabled.
Sadly, this type of equality has fallen foul of an EU blanket rulings designed to restrict unfair trade from countries using trade subsidies. The money the disabled were getting to equalise them with able bodied workers was classified as a subsidy. This meant that charities like scope were now faced with a big dilemma.
The charity could continue to back the many small businesses it runs, but without the necessary funding. In this case it would only be a matter of time before it would become bankrupt. This is why the other option of closing down the businesses before the rule came into effect went ahead with the consequence of making all the disabled unemployed.
The rules have now been extended to include the ministry of defence forbidding them to fund Remploy. Due to this Remploy has realised that it will no longer be able to exist in the future, a total rethink of the organisation has led to some changes. Remploy is now a Recruitment Service for the disabled, as this is not classified as a subsidy.
The Government can fund recruitment activities and has done so to the tune of £555 Million over five years for the Remploy organisation. This sum of money is massive, so why so much? Well the government will have to find a new job for every disabled person working in Remploy factories, there are over 3,000 of them.
Remploy says that it costs £20,000 per person per year to keep them in the factories and for a one off payment of £5.000 they can find them a job. This, however, is not true regarding the £20,000 as Remploy only take on the disabled with a work rate of not less than 80% of the speed of an able bodied man. If Remploy pays a wage of £10,000 only £2,000 can be put down to loss of productivity. Somehow, I don't think they are paying the disabled £100,000 each for them to arrive at this sum.
What I find appalling is that the government has not stood up for the vulnerable disabled in our country and has allowed the EU to walk all over them. This none action which has resulted in the deliberate loss of over 3,000 jobs for the disabled is a national disgrace. Spending £555 million on a disabled recruitment service to cover up the pending 3000 deliberate disabled job losses just because the Government would not stand up to the EU is an even bigger national disgrace.
So, in answer to my original question, is the EU good for the diabled? I think not.