Textile programme for disabled to be replaced with work experience scheme

Hove Town Hall
Hove Town Hall

A council programme may get a new name as it changes its nature.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s children, young people and skills committee agreed to change a business programme for disabled people to a rolling work experience scheme at a meeting on Wednesday (January 14).

Green and Conservative councillors joined forces to call for the new rolling work experience programme replacing the Able and Willing business to have a new name.

Able and Willing was set up as a printing and embroidery business with financial support from the council to operate as a business while supporting disabled staff.

It is folding as the business has overspent its budget by £17,000 this year and £52,000 last year although the council has cut the budget over many years.

Green councillor Alex Phillips asked the committee to agree to ‘regret the loss’ of the textile business Able and Willing and for the new programme take another name.

She said: “It has been a difficult and arduous task. These options presented to us today come from the administration.

“I am very sorry to see the loss of work of Able and Willing. They have been around a long, long time in the city.

“They have produced a lot of different things for the council but for different enterprises and businesses as well.

“We feel as the services Able and Willing have will cease to exist, there hasn’t been any consultation with the workers of Able and Willing about whether they want to keep the name.

“We feel the new work placement programme should not inherit the Able and Willing name. It is a different venture.”

She was supported by Conservative councillor Vanessa Brown who said: “We don’t think it is appropriate for this programme to go under the name of Able and Willing as it is a different concept.

“We understand why the administration wants to keep the name as in their 2015 manifesto they promised to fully support Able and Willing but it isn’t happening.”

A member of the public called out ‘you have all failed’.

The outgoing committee chair, Labour councillor Daniel Chapman, said that he did not support the amendment and felt that it should be up to the people involved in the programme to rename the programme.

He said: “It should be up to those who are employed through Able and Willing and the stakeholders involved. It should be up to them what the name of that programme should be.

Fellow Labour Councillor Les Hamilton said that he did not think that there should be any restrictions on the future name.

People taking part in the work placement programme within council departments will be funded from the Able and Willing budget and not by the department managing them.