A report is due to go to Cabinet on 10 December outlining the outcome of the review of Shelforce’s future operating model with a recommendation of a further period of consultation on the future service redesign.
The proposed new model would see the continuation of Shelforce as a viable trading operation with a minimum workforce of 13 employees with the potential to increase this number dependent upon the level of future work received. Other options looked at – keeping the current model or reducing the workforce to 41 – are not financially viable.
Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, said: “This is an extremely difficult decision to have to make, but in the current financial climate it is no longer possible for Shelforce to continue to operate in its current state, receiving subsidies from the taxpayer every year.
“Shelforce operates in a highly competitive and unpredictable market and has found it increasingly difficult to secure profitable sales, meaning total trading losses over the last five years have exceeded £4.5m.
“However, this is not simply about money. It has been recognised nationally and internationally that this is an outdated model and is no longer a suitable way of supporting disabled people into employment. A recent government report, produced by Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of leading UK charity RADAR, has brought into question the sheltered employment model in operation at Shelforce
“We are doing all we can to support staff with the aim of redeploying as many as possible within the City Council or supporting them into mainstream employment outside the Council, and we are actively exploring options with external employers.
“In addition to this, we are taking active steps to increase the help and support provided to disabled people across Birmingham, with initiatives such as the Business Charter for Social Responsibility.”
The Council is recommending that able-bodied staff that are identified as at risk of redundancy are put on ‘priority movers’ for three months, and disabled staff who are in the same position for at least three months and up to six months, on a case by case basis depending on individual circumstances.