The Paralympics, ATOS and Remploy

The Paralympics are in full swing now. Some extraordinary sportspeople are showing us what they can do and we can celebrate their successes. The Games show disabled people’s strengths but there’s also a growing strength of feeling about issues that affect many people with disabilities.

There are protests about ATOS who are sponsoring the Games while running a controversial £100 million contract to carry out “fit to work” tests.

Meanwhile, disabled people who do have jobs are losing them as Remploy factories are closing across the country. Remploy’s mission is “to transform the lives of disabled people and those who experience complex barriers to work by providing sustainable employment opportunities.”  The WEA has run courses with some Remploy staff and we have seen the pride that they take in their work.

The Government’s rationale for the factory closures is that disabled people shouldn’t be segregated at work. The test will be what happens to the workers who lose their jobs and whether suitable alternatives really are available in integrated workplaces.

What are the facts and figures behind these issues?

The following statistics are from HM Government’s Office for Disability Issues (

  • 20 per cent of people in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty, on a ‘Before Housing Costs’ basis, compared to 16 per cent of people in families with no disabled member
  • In 2011, the employment rate of disabled people was 48.8 per cent, compared with 77.5 per cent of non-disabled people
  • 20 per cent of working age disabled people do not hold any formal qualification, compared to seven per cent of working age non-disabled people
  • Over a quarter of disabled people say that they do not often have choice and control over their daily lives
  • In 2010 58 per cent of disabled people lived in households with internet access, compared to 84 per cent of non-disabled people
  • Disabled people are much more likely to be victims of crime than non-disabled people. This gap is largest among 16-34 year-olds where 39 per cent of disabled people reported having been a victim of crime compared to 28 per cent of non-disabled people
  • One in three households with a disabled person still live in non-decent accommodation

Statistics can show the scale of the issues but each of these facts and figures represents the reality of individual people’s lives.

We must do all we can to ensure the care and dignity of people whose illness or disability makes paid work impossible for them. We must also make sure that education, training and decent sustainable employment are available for people with disabilities who are fit to work so that they can contribute their considerable skills and potential to society.

About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn:

2 Responses to The Paralympics, ATOS and Remploy

  1. jmiskin says:

    Talk with Remploy staff and their TU, the GMB, and they are under no illusions that this is about integration, rather that it is about cuts. Integration could be a valid argument were we in a job creation environment. Is it? emphatically not. The reality will be that many currently employed won’t be. Sad but true and, as such, the closures are a major step backwards and need to be resisted.

  2. Pingback: Remploy update – segregation or unemployment? | WEA Director for Education's Blog

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