THE Portsmouth branch of Remploy only has 18 months to prove it can be run as a business.
That’s according to Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock.
He has been speaking to Steve Webb, Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions, to see what needs to be done to safeguard Remploy’s future.
Remploy is proposing to close 36 of its 54 factories with potential compulsory redundancies for more than 1,700 disabled workers.
Remploy is a government-owned and subsidised company set up after the Second World War to provide a sheltered environment for people with disabilities.
It has grown to become the country’s largest specialist employer of disabled people.
But whilst the Portsmouth Remploy factory has been spared the axe, Mr Hancock said its future is far from assured.
‘They’ve got 18 months to make it into a commercially viable business,’ Mr Hancock said.
‘I’m going to meet with the minister as soon as I can to see if the city can help.
‘I’ve asked Kathy Wadsworth, strategic director for regeneration to meet Remploy to see what we can do.
‘They have 18 months to get it commercially operating so someone can take it over or there’s a management buyout.’
But Mr Hancock said that if that fails, the 15 people working in Portsmouth – 13 of whom are disabled – will have 18 months of support to find themselves new jobs.
Remploy provides work for 2,400 people all around the UK.