Disabled staff face redundancy after wage scheme axe

ANGRY GHS Recycling director Paul Harris, centre, with Jamie Taylor, left, and Simon Brooks, right, who are employed by the firm.     Picture: Steve Reid (112081-285)
ANGRY GHS Recycling director Paul Harris, centre, with Jamie Taylor, left, and Simon Brooks, right, who are employed by the firm. Picture: Steve Reid (112081-285)
Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

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TWO disabled men are facing the axe from their jobs after the government cut a vital grant.

Jamie Taylor, 33, and Simon Brook, 48, have worked at GHS Recycling in Hilsea for a total of 37 years.

They got their jobs thanks to the Workstep Scheme, which offers subsidies to employers to give work to disabled people.

This paid half their weekly wages – up to £100 – but that dwindled to just £25 and now the government has stopped it completely.

It means Jamie is set to be made redundant, while Simon’s future at the firm where he has worked for 22 years hangs in the balance.

Guy Harris, 63, GHS director, said he is angry about the cuts, adding: ‘The government is not thinking about people who have limitations in the workplace – disabled people are falling through a big gap.

‘Jamie and Simon are valuable to me and they do a good job.

‘When Jamie first came to us he was insecure and had no confidence. Over the years we have built his confidence up. Simon is now worried silly.

‘They need extra support and may take a bit longer to get the job done but this does not mean I do not value them.’

Mr Harris added: ‘I can no longer afford to subsidise them any more, not for two of them.

‘Over the years as their skills have improved their wages have gone up, but the subsidy did not. Now it is being cut altogether.’

There is a replacement scheme but this will only provide training for people with disabilities and not long-term employment.

Jamie, who is being made redundant after 15 years in the job, said: ‘I blame the government – I’m really worried.

‘I haven’t had the chance to think about what I’m going to do next. It has come as quite a shock.’

A spokesman from the Department of Work and Pensions, which oversees the Workstep Programme, said: ‘Workstep was never intended to give permanent financial help but to help people progress to positions where they can remain in mainstream work.’