Blindcraft is a social enterprise with noble roots going back 217 years. The mainstay of its business is the making of beds.
Today the Council finally took the decision to embark on the statutory 30 day consultation with a view to closure.
In the last 10 years the organisation has been a huge loss maker and repeated efforts to turn it into a successful organisation have failed. Over recent years it has been dogged with fierce competition to its core business, inefficiency issues, poor industrial relations, along with some ill fated attempts to diversify (one such was windows). Significant efforts were made to streamline the business and improve the management - but none of these had the desired effect of putting the organisation on a viable footing.
The business had been slimmed down to 53 employees, only a proportion of whom had a debility. The rather absurd situation had been reached that, in order to maintain the organisation, the council was subsidising Blindcraft by an amount significantly over £30,000 per annum for each person with a debility.
Efforts to save Blindcraft have been long drawn out and extensive and I know there has been a huge investment of Council energy and resources to keep the organisation running . All but 4 of the employees were members of three unions involved. An earlier move (November) to save the organisation by exploring the possibility of moving to a 3 day week was stymied when a union ballot of the employees met with over 30 of the workforce voting against this possible rescue route.
There have been accusations that the Council had not done enough to save the enterprise. The reality is that neither the previous (Labour) administration nor the current council had been able to make realistic headway against a clutch of adverse circumstances described above.
Considering the subsidy of £30,000 per person per annum could have provided very significant services to those involved - and others in need of support, the situation was becoming surreal.
It seems likely that employment protection legislation (TUPE) would have deterred potential white knights from rescuing the business and statutory redundancy payments are likely to we welcomed by some of the workforce.
NB Blindcraft operates from premises in Peffer Place just outside the Southside & Newington ward.