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Volume 495: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

1. What estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of Remploy’s operations in the latest period for which figures are available. (282345)

The last available figures, which are for the financial year ending March 2008, show that Remploy received £195.8 million of direct funding from the Department, comprising £145.8 million of grant in aid and an additional £50 million of modernisation payments to help with the restructuring of the company. Managing the level of funding for Remploy is one of the key aims of our modernisation plan, which was why we secured a £555 million modernisation fund over the five-year period.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. In the response to my parliamentary question 270816, Members were able to see that, over the last three years, Remploy’s senior managers have claimed £4.3 million in bonus payments, including £1.7 million in last year alone. That is six times the amount of money paid out in bonuses in 2000-01. Given that Remploy is losing money, that factories have closed and that job numbers are falling, does my hon. Friend not agree that it would be more appropriate for no bonuses to be paid until Remploy is making money, not losing it?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. She will know that there are two parts to Remploy: the enterprise operation that runs the factory of about 3,000 employees, and the employment services, which got more than 7,000 people into jobs last year. Part of the bonus programme was that those managers whose pay is about £30,000 got a bonus of about £5,000 for getting disabled people into work. Their pay and performance terms compare favourably with those of other companies or comparable organisations. The bonus scheme is for the company, but it needs to be seen in perspective, in the context of the overall organisation.

People who are disabled or who have special educational needs—very good people who want work—can suffer more than others in trying to find work during the recession, so what more can the Minister do to promote sheltered employment units in privately owned companies?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question. He will be aware that we are doubling the access to work fund, which has seen some 44,000 disabled people into work. Using access to work as an indicator, we are not seeing any of those who benefit from the fund losing their employment. I am sure that he would also welcome the learning disability employment strategy, which I and the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Phil Hope), launched last week. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that despite the world economic downturn, we will continue to concentrate on helping disabled people get into work and stay in it.