Welsh Government Education Minister Leighton Andrews has called for the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to be sacked after comments he made to the Sunday Express about his reasons for closing Remploy factories, which employ disabled staff.
The Tory MP is quoted in the paper saying “Is it a kindness to stick people in some factory where they are not doing any work at all? Just making cups of coffee? I promise you this is better. Taking this decision was a balance between how much do I want to spend keeping a number of people in Remploy factories not producing stuff versus getting people into proper jobs.”
Leighton Andrews AM has hit back at the comments and is now calling on Iain Duncan Smith to be sacked. He says “I have visited every factory in Wales, since the Tory closure announcement, so unlike Iain Duncan Smith I actually have a clear idea of the good work that goes on in many of these factories. It is not just the callousness of these remarks that are shocking - I would expect little else from this Government - it’s the ignorance behind the remarks that is really troubling."
– Leighton Andrews AM
It is not just the callousness of these remarks that are shocking... it’s the ignorance behind the remarks that is really troubling.
Leighton Andrews went on to say In Wales we are absolutely clear that the decision to close all Remploy factories is wrong on social grounds, and wrong on economic grounds too. The DWP, and the tax payer, will end up paying out more for the Remploy workers if the factories close as they will be forced to take the dole.
The Department for Work and Pensions have hit back over the criticism, saying that the Sunday Express has "deliberately mis represented the arguments on this very important issue."
– DWP Spokesperson
We believe that the best way to help disabled people into work is not to hide them away in factories but give them every assistance in supporting them into mainstream employment.
Ministers and the Secretary of State are clear - the specialist employment budget is £320m a fifth of which is presently spent on loss making Remploy factories and should instead be moved into programmes like Access to Work. There will be no cut to funding.
We appreciate that Remploy has been an important part of many disabled people's working lives and this decision was not taken lightly.