Former Remploy worker claims Government misled disabled over support package

5:10pm Wednesday 9th January 2013

By Joe Willis

DISABLED workers made redundant by the Government were misled over levels of support they would receive to get back to work, an ex-Remploy employee claims.

Former Remploy worker Simon Huntington said he was starting to lose hope after spending the last five months looking for a job.

Mr Huntington, 37, of Shildon, County Durham, was made redundant last year after the Government closed Remploy’s Spennymoor plant, along with 26 other factories employing disabled people across the country.

Workers were told an £8m support package would be used to help them find work.

But Mr Huntington, who suffers from osteoporosis, claimed the support he had received had been minimal and a promised database of jobs reserved for Remploy workers had not even been set up.

He added: “We’re just not getting much support. We were told there would be a database of jobs just for us, but it’s not come to fruition.

“I’m applying for five or six jobs a week but I’m not even getting any replies.

“I volunteer at the Locomotion museum in Shildon and if I didn’t, I would go stark raving bonkers in the house all day.”

Mr Huntington believes listing Remploy on his CV has led to him and others being discriminated against by employers.

“If people see Remploy on your CV they don’t think you’re any good, they think you’re thick.”

In an appeal to employers for work for himself and other former Remploy staff, he said: “We may be disabled but we want to work and want to do our bit for the community – we just want a chance.

"I will do any job. I'm desperate for a job, anything - I'd even sweep the streets."

Figures released last year show only three of the 41 former workers at the Remploy factory in Spennymoor have been helped into employment.

In response to the criticism, the Department for Work and Pensions said that Remploy Employment Services had found more than 520 jobs for disabled people in the local area in 2010/11.

The spokesman added: "We have protected the £320m budget for specialist disability services, but we need to use the money more effectively on successful schemes like Access to Work, instead of losing millions of pounds in segregated factories.

"We are doing all we can to help Remploy staff find work. All disabled employees affected by the changes have access to an £8m package of employment support, including a personal case worker, one-to-one sessions, and personal budgets.

* Anyone able to help Mr Huntington in his quest for a job should e-mail joe.willis@nne.co.uk

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