Here is a letter Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has sent to newspapers for publication about the final chapter in the history of Remploy factories in Wales:
It’s a sad day to see the final blow to the Remploy network of factories which has served so many people very well over many years.
Thanks to the actions of two successive UK Governments over the last five years, Wales has lost the last of its Remploy factories. Many people with disabilities in the valleys and beyond will find it very difficult to find work, which enables them to pay into the tax pot.
On a recent visit to the Remploy factory in Porth, which I hope will be able to continue to operate if a management buy-out goes through, I was told how the workers from the Trefforest Remploy factory which was shut in 2008 under the Labour Westminster Government are, in the main, still out of work and fast losing hope of gainful employment in the future. The former workers from the more recently closed factories such as Aberdare and Croespenmaen have, by and large, been added to the unemployment statistics. This significant group of ex-Remploy staff face a double whammy as they will also have to jump through even more hoops to access basic money through a reforming social security system.
Plaid Cymru believes in the principle of supported employment and we condemn the closure of the Remploy factories by the current and previous UK Governments. The Party of Wales advocated the devolution of the Remploy factory budgets in Wales to the National Assembly. Now that the Remploy factory network is no more in Wales, we call upon the Welsh Government to put the case for finance from the UK Government to provide supported employment opportunities for workers with disabilities in all parts of Wales. There is, after all, plenty of work in our communities which needs doing!
I would furthermore like to take this opportunity to make clear that the Party of Wales distances itself from all political and media attacks on those who are forced to be reliant upon social security. Plaid Cymru believes in a comprehensive and fair welfare safety net and will work to ensure people in Wales can afford decent social protection in the long term.
Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader and AM for South