Council steps in with Remploy lifeline

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NORTH Lanarkshire Council is to take on the leasehold of the former Remploy factory in Netherton with plans to create more jobs for disabled people.

The UK Government announced the withdrawal of funding for Remploy across the country in September 2012, and the factory was closed, forcing 22 people out of work including 20 disabled people.

The council will take on the leasehold which was due to run out in April 2021 at a cost of £603,500 - equivalent to what Remploy would have paid for four and a quater years.

It will work closely with Beltane Products and Morrison Scotland, the council’s home repairs partner, to finalise and implement the business case which will see Beltane expand its current operations.

Beltane already has 28 employees, 23 of whom are disabled, and will be in a position to offer more opportunities to disabled people, potentially including work to those affected by the closure.

The business will focus on key areas including storage, assembly of kitchens for the council’s upgrade programme and provision of furniture to schools.

Council leader Councillor Jim McCabe said: “The workers at Remploy were shamefully treated by the UK Government’s decision to withdraw funding.

“This council will always aim to support the most vulnerable people in our communities and through our Supported Employment service we already assist 271 people with disabilities to gain and retain work; 151 of whom we have supported into open employment across North Lanarkshire.

“Acquiring this leasehold is a further positive step towards further expanding supported employment initiatives and making a positive contribution to the economy.

“We’re now working as quickly as possible, along with our partners in Beltane Products and Morrison Scotland, to make sure we build a sustainable future for our supported business in Beltane and now the former Remploy site.

“We hope to be in a position soon where we will be able to offer new employment opportunities for disabled people and a new start after the devastating blow of last year.

“I’m proud of the way the council has reacted to this terrible situation but, by working with our partners and those affected, we can offer a brighter future for supported employment in North Lanarkshire.”