POOLE’S Remploy factory is set to close, putting around 18 people with disabilities out of a job.

It is one of 36 Remploy sites which the government says will shut because they are unlikely to become financially viable.

Workers at the Alder Hills factory, which once had 46 staff, will be consulted over the planned closure.

The factory won a battle against the threat of closure in 2007 but has struggled for survival since, with unions claiming that councils could do more to help Remploy secure contracts.

Staff at the site yesterday had been told to refer callers to the company’s website.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, announced in a written statement that the Remploy board was planning to close 36 out of its 54 sites, making 1,752 people redundant – most of them workers with disabilities.

She said: “The government will reduce its current subsidy to Remploy from the beginning of the new financial year so that we cease funding factories which make significant losses year after year and restrict funding to those factories which might have a prospect of a viable future without government subsidy.”

She said the government-subsidised company would shortly begin consulting with unions on the proposed closures and compulsory redundancies.

The minister said savings from the decision would be used on “proven employment programmes” to benefit “many more” people with disabilities.

She said the government had assessed “very carefully” the needs of Remploy workers and the 6.9 million disabled people of working age who could benefit from greater employment support.

But Phil Davies, national officer of the GMB union, said: “This decision to sack 1,752 people in 36 factories across the country is one of the worst decisions that this discredited coalition government has taken since coming to office.

“Thousands of disabled workers will now pay with their jobs for the incompetence of this government and other public sector bodies that didn’t take advantage of EU procurement rules that allow supported manufacturing jobs for disabled workers.”

Last month, the Daily Echo reported how the future of another sheltered employer for people with disabilities was in doubt.

Bournemouth council said it could not afford to continue a £500,000-a-year subsidy to the Dorset Enterprises factory in Elliott Road, Bournemouth, which employs 22 people, 18 of whom have disabilities.