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Remploy

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether (a) Remploy and (b) other sheltered employment agencies are exempt from competition rules which might protect the contracts they can secure from public bodies and Government agencies in the UK; (143676)

(2) which competition rules which apply to mainstream employers apply to (a) Remploy and (b) other sheltered employment agencies;

(3) what public procurement rules apply to the awarding of contracts by (a) Government and (b) local government departments and agencies on (i) favourable and (ii) protected terms to (A) Remploy and (B) other sheltered employment agencies.

The Public Contracts Regulations apply to all procurement exercises for goods and services by Government with a contract value of over £93,738, and to local government exercises with a contract value of over £144,371.

These Regulations allow contracting authorities to “Reserve” contracts for supported factories and businesses. This means that only organisations where more than 50 per cent. of the workers are disabled persons, who by reason of disability are unable to take up work in the open labour market, can bid for this work. Any employer or supported employment programme meeting the 50 per cent. disabled employees criteria can bid for reserved contracts.

There is also a scheme “Special Contract Arrangements” for contracts below these threshold values. Under this scheme, contracting authorities are allowed to “offer back” work to supported employers, whose tender is unacceptable on price alone, to give them the opportunity to match the best offer received.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has considered the merits of extending the proposed structure and numbers of Remploy factories beyond the agreed five year funding period. (144126)

Any consideration of the merits of extending the proposed structure and numbers of Remploy factories beyond the agreed five-year funding period will only be made after the company has presented its modernisation plans.