The demise of Remploy
The coalition government has recently made the decision to shut a number of Remploy sites this year and this has sparked a raft of demos and rallies against the decision in an effort to get the government to change its mind.
Remploy currently work to support disabled individuals in finding work with employers and campaign to promote disable people within the workforce. So the decision from the government to cut 36 of the 54 Remploy sites has left some disabled people feeling unwanted, undervalued and betrayed by the Government who just days before the decision, in the Welfare Bill, committed to support people getting into employment.
The Government’s position on this is that they are protecting the £320m budget for specialist disability employment services, but will be spending it in a more effective way looking to support more disabled people in work rather than using a specific body.
Aside from the legal issues within the Equality Act, which ensure that all individuals are treated equally regardless of ability or disability, this becomes much more of an ethical issue to deal with.
Should disabled people be more integrated into the ‘normal’ working world and then employers ensure that they are treated fairly and in line with prevailing legislation? Or is it better to have an organisation that focuses specifically on the needs of disabled people that they can work within? How do disabled people want to be treated, integrated or excluded?
There is an argument that disabled individuals need the additional support and protection that organisations like Remploy provide to ensure that they can break through the barriers of discrimination and unfair treatment that unfortunately still occur within some organisations.
This is a good argument, but instead of protecting them and segregating people, we should be dealing with organisations that don’t or won’t support disabled employees and manage the diversity that they bring to a workforce.
Legislation plays its part in this, but for some it’s more of a cultural change. Rather than looking at what they perceive disabled people can’t do, they should be looking at what they can do and what skills and experience each person brings. It should not be seen as a burden or a financial issue; support is available and with the government promising to use the £320m for disability in employment this is an ideal focus for it.