Dorset Enterprises, a factory that employs people with disabilities, is set to close after the council decide to withdraw the funding.
The council have decided they are no longer able to fund the Bournmouth factory which makes garden furniture, as it is making a loss, so twenty three people will be made redundant, nineteen of these people have disabilities.
Workers have protested and pleaded with the Conservative-led council, to reconsider, but they have said the decision was “regrettable” due to lack of earnings for the factory.
The company’s turnover has halved over the past five years, partly due to cheaper overseas competition and trade unions have said the council could have done more to promote Dorset Enterprises.
Dave Higgins, of Unison’s Bournemouth branch, said:
Many of the people affected are quite severely disabled and I think they are going to find it extremely difficult to get another job. Some have got disabled partners or children. This decision will not just affect those 23 individuals but their families as well. In many cases.
Dorset Enterprises gives disabled people a reason to do something and makes them feel wanted. They continue to make great things, if they had the right support and a sales and marketing manager to tell people about what they can do, they’d be able to make that profit again.
Although Bournemouth might be saving some money, there will be a cost to the country of increasing welfare benefits in addition to any ill effects on their health as a result of this.
Employee Jenny Sprott, who has worked at the factory for 34 years, think’s she would find it hard to work in a regular workplace:
I’m a slow learner and would find it hard to do something else and keep up the pace. I just can’t keep up sometimes.
Bournemouth Council claims that closing Dorset Enterprises will save it £471,000 a year in subsidy that it can no longer afford to pay. It has promised to try and find a partner organisation that will provide employment for disabled people on the site and will redeploy staff where possible.
Blair Crawford, cabinet member for adult social care, said:
These are difficult and challenging times. It’s a case of balancing options but there is no way of avoiding pain.