Socialist Worker

Nasty, brutish and in office

Issue No. 1673

DISABLED WORKERS at Remploy, the government funded company which employs disabled people, are furious that the company has trashed its promise not to close nine factories. Remploy chief Tony Withey said last week that the company will cut 913 manufacturing jobs over the next two years. This is on top of reviving old plans to shut or merge nine of Remploy's 87 factories, causing 'disruption and anxiety' for at least 500 workers.

A Remploy worker in Burnley said, 'I am disgusted at New Labour's attitude to disabled people. It echoes Tory Michael Portillo's words that disabled people should be left to fend for themselves.' The government has refused to increase its annual subsidy to Remploy, which the Tories froze at £94 million in 1994.

NEW LABOUR plans to tell psychiatric patients who are released into the community where they can and cannot live. Individuals may also be forced to undergo treatment programmes. If a patient breaches either of these two orders they can be returned to hospital to face compulsory treatment.

Health secretary Alan Milburn is blaming the victims of the Tories' failed care in the community policy. A report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1997 revealed that the number of hospital beds for the mentally ill had halved. Money from hospital closures does not go into services in the community.

MINISTERS ARE planning to strip benefits from convicted criminals who break a court order. At the moment 120,000 people are on community service orders for petty offences. If they fail to turn up for whatever task they are supposed to do, their probation officer finds out what the problem is.

But under new measures in the forthcoming Welfare Reform Bill people who break an order will face losing all benefits. Many will be forced to offend to survive. So whatever the government 'saves' in taking away someone's benefit it will lose in locking people up. It costs around £25,000 a year to keep someone in prison.

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Sat 20 Nov 1999, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1673
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