The Welsh Government has announced that a support programme for workers at Remploy factories in Wales will be extended. They hope it will help those facing redundancy because of UK Government plans to close the remaining Welsh factories.
Last year Ministers in London announced that a number of Remploy plants were to close under 'Phase 1' of their plans. In response the Welsh Government launched the Employer Support Grant to help displaced Remploy workers find new work.
The UK Government is now considering the future of the remaining Remploy plants in Wales under 'Phase 2', including the future of the Porth and Baglan sites. Two hundred workers could potentially be affected.
Welsh Remploy workers say they feel they've been 'thrown on the scrapheap' after the UK Government announced further closure plans, putting 140 more jobs at risk in Porth and Neath.
Six Remploy sites have already closed this year, including Wrexham and Merthyr Tydfil, with the loss of almost 300 jobs. The Bridgend factory will shut in March.
The UK Government argues the money for disabled employment services should be spent more effectively.
The Welsh Government has released a statement following an announcement from the Department for Work & Pensions that 140 Remploy jobs are at risk in Wales.
We have made it clear we do not believe that closing the factories will improve the lives of disabled people and we will be discussing our objections to DWP's announcement as a matter of urgency.
We have sought to alleviate the impact of closures by introducing a programme of support to help displaced Remploy workers in Wales to find alternative, suitable employment. The programme has already proven to be successful, with a total of 97 employment opportunities already identified, approved and recruitment underway with 26 employers across a range of business sectors.
The Welsh Government has this morning asked the Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey to devolve the funding, assets, land, buildings and contracts of the two remaining Remploy factories in Wales to the Welsh Government in order to create a viable social enterprise.
The Minister for Education and Skills Leighton Andrews discussed this in a telephone conversation with Ms McVey this morning.
The Department for Work and Pensions says Remploy will invite expressions of interest to take over the running of the remaining factories from today.
Our priority throughout this process is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.
We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320 million budget for disability employment services.
But we are following the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce to use the money more effectively to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs - the same as everyone else.
All disabled employees affected by the changes will be guaranteed tailored support from an £8 million package, including a personal case worker, to help with the transition into mainstream employment.
Unite union has spoken out following news that hundreds more Remploy jobs are under threat across the UK, including 140 in Wales.
The timing is callous so close to Christmas when ministers had previously said the funding for those sites, due to close or be sold off in 2013, was secure until August and September next year.
It is a cruel decision, given that of those sacked in the first round of closures, only about 50 have found new jobs in the last three months.
We call on ministers to stop the closure programme immediately until there is a review of the shambles of selling-off Remploy sites to commercial interests.
The UK Government said the decision was taken to close factories that are not financially viable because the money could be better used to support disabled workers.
Around 140 Remploy workers in Wales are at risk of losing their jobs under fresh closure plans, the UK Government has announced.
In Neath, 67 workers have been told they face compulsory redundancy, while in Porth 72 jobs are under threat.
Ministers announced earlier this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, saying that the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.
Across the UK 875 Remploy workers, including 682 disabled people, are now facing an uncertain future.
A ex-Remploy worker has established his own business to provide jobs for disabled workers made redundant from the factories that are closing.
"This is all geared up for disabled people. I know a lot are going to lose their jobs in Remploy," says Steven Watts.
"This is a not-for-profit. Everything we make goes back into the company to help pay these people's wages."
A former Remploy worker has built himself a positive future, setting up his own business.Read the full story ›
Four Welsh Remploy factories have closed their doors for the last time today - despite a vociferous campaign against the cuts.
The sites in Abertillery, Aberdare, Merthyr and Wrexham have now closed. Swansea will shut at the end of the month.
Other factories at Neath and Porth will remain open. But doubt still hangs over those at Bridgend and Croespenmaen near Pontypool. Bids have been invited to run them.
Ian Lang reports on the last day at one of the factories, in Wrexham.