Community believes that there can be a sustainable future for supported employment workplaces. We believe that there can be a sustainable future for supported employment (businesses which employ a majority of disabled people) but that this requires the right political will, targeted government funding, pro-active procurement policies and the correct business models.
The government’s austerity measures have hit disabled people hardest. In recent years Community has fought against a number of supported employment factory closures – at Glencraft, Edinburgh Blindcraft and Remploy. Community is convinced that there are practical solutions available to sustain supported employment businesses.
For example, Community is proud to represent the workforce at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi), part of City Building in Glasgow. The workshop is an example of what can be achieved by a supported employment business.
RSBi is successfully diversifying its business into such areas as archiving and records management. It has 220 employees over 50 per cent of whom are disabled people. It gives work experience and training in furniture manufacturing to 45 school pupils from Additionally Supported Learning Schools (ASL) in Glasgow every week during school term. It has also ring-fenced 6 posts for returning disabled ex-service men and women.
To find out just how important a workplace such as RSBi is to these people, you may want to take a moment to watch the video that Community has produced above.
Many years ago, Community worked together with RSBi management through a difficult period of changes in funding and restructuring the business. Those changes are now delivering tangible benefits.
We believe that other supported employment businesses could be just as successful but it is clear that, at this crucial stage, effective Government action is needed for that to happen.
Work Choice is a government programme that provides financial support to help disabled people find and sustain employment. Many of Community’s members who work in supported employment businesses receive Work Choice support. This funding is an integral part of the business models of the organisations our members work for.
The programme has recently been extended but its long-term future is unclear. This could put the jobs of thousands of disabled workers at risk. Community is calling for a clear commitment from all parties that Work Choice will be replaced by an improved support programme that doesn’t threaten our members’ jobs.
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