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Sheltered Workshops

Volume 934: debated on Monday 27 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on progress towards improving arrangements for giving Government contracts to sheltered employment.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the National Advisory Council on Employment of Disabled People has recently completed a review of the arrangements for the allocation of Government contracts to sheltered workshops, and its report will shortly be considered by the Commission.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action he is taking to assist sheltered workshops with marketing.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that marketing services have been available to workshops for blind people since 1964, through the Blind Advisory Services Group of Remploy—previously industrial Adviser to the Blind. Some of these facilities have recently been made available to workshops for severely disabled sighted people. The Commission is considering what further steps might be taken.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects the level of wages paid to employees in other sheltered workshops to be raised to that of employees in blind workshops; what account he is taking of misplacement due to the differing wage rates; and if he will make a statement.

The aim, as circumstances and Government policies permit, is to achieve a common level of earnings in Remploy factories and blind workshops. As a result of an arbitration award there has been a common date for increases since November 1975. If my hon. Friend will send me details of any case of misplacement known to him I will ask the Manpower Services Commission to investigate.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the sources of subsidy available to employers generally which are not available to managers of sheltered workshops; and if he will make a statement.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the main schemes under which sheltered workshops in receipt of assistance under Section 15 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 are not eligible for assistance are as follows:

Regional Schemes:

Regional development grants.
Regional selective financial assistance (under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972).

Other schemes (under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972):

Selective investment scheme.
Sectoral schemes.

As a matter of principle subsidies to enable severely disabled people to work under sheltered conditions are concentrated under the 1944 Act rather than made available under alternative Government schemes which are designed to assist industry for different purposes.