Blindness charity forced to close factory

The Royal London Society for the Blind plans to close its factory in north London on 31 July after cuts to its local authority grants.

The charity says it has no option but to shut the factory in Willesden Junction, which employs blind and partially sighted people to make components for the automotive and brewing industries. A month-long consultation with the 33-strong workforce and trade union Community has begun.

Grants have dried up because central government policy now favours open, rather than sheltered employment for disabled people, the charity said.

“Management and staff have worked hard to reduce overheads, diversify our business, win new contracts and the RSLB has spent £1.7m on keeping the factory going over the past five years,” said Brian Cooney, chief executive of the charity. “But unfortunately without the grants from central and local government, our sheltered workshop is simply no longer viable.”

A spokesman said that workers and the union were free come to up “other ways of dealing with the situation”.

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