Birmingham City Council has been threatened with legal action over "disproportionate" cuts to a disabled workers scheme.
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) is representing a mother and carer of two employees of Shelforce - a supported factory employing disabled people funded by Birmingham council - in a Judicial Review challenge to the council's decision to impose "drastic and irreversible" cuts to the service.
The council voted in December to reduce the factory's workforce from over 60 to 13, in a move which PIL argues is likely to result in widespread compulsory redundancies and lead to the closure of Shelforce.
Shelforce's roots date back to the 1830s and has provided life-changing employment to many disabled Birmingham residents since that time.
PIL has written to the council challenging the cuts and its decision-making process claiming the authority had breached its equalities and consultation duties.
The council carried out a lengthy consultation exercise in 2012. But PIL claims the options for Shelforce's future that were put forward "bore little resemblance" to the December 2012 decision.
Throughout the consultation employees were allegedly assured that they would be redeployed within Birmingham City Council. However, PIL said this assurance was withdrawn in the final decision.
The firm also argues that the council failed to assess the impact that its decision would have on the disabled people who have heavy financial, social and emotional reliance on Shelforce.
PIL solicitor Daniel Carey said Shelforce has been a lifeline to disabled poeple for decades.
"It is too valuable to cut on the basis of a deeply flawed consultation exercise and an equalities assessment that failed to even correctly identify the decisions it was supposed to be assessing."
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