Able and Willing could be renamed as it moves from printing to placements

A council-run business programme which employs disabled people may get a new name as it changes its nature.

Able and Willing is a printing and embroidery business which employs disabled people – but it has blown its budget for the last three years and is no longer financially sustainable.

Yesterday afternoon, Brighton and Hove councillors agreed to change the programme to a rolling work placement scheme – and the Greens and Conservatives joined forces to call for it to be renamed.

At the Children, Young People and Skills Committee, 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 current service 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.

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.

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