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It is with some sadness that we have to announce the closure of the Engine Shed in Edinburgh.  Below is a statement from Marian MacDonald, CEO going into more detail on this matter.  Last year thousands of people signed petitions and protested against the threats to the closure and we were able to win a year’s reprieve for the service.  However the policy of the council did not change and it continued to pursue a single approach to helping people with learning disabilities into work.

This made it impossible to secure continuing funding from this council department for a service like the Engine Shed which focuses on providing a more complicated pattern of training opportunities, work placements and job hunting.    In addition the Engine Shed’s ability to manage was getting more difficult following several years of the restricted funding from the council.  The Engine Shed was getting less money last year than they did 10 years previously. 

 As far as we are aware at no point in the last year has anyone from the council said that they didn’t want the Engine Shed but it has suffered from not fitting into the new priorities that the council has been promoting.  Given that we are moving into the world of choice, Self Directed Support, where people who get services can choose what they want to do with their support, it is strange to see this unique and valued service vanishing by neglect while it remains popular with those who use it. 

  The questions we will have to face in the future are

 ·         how much choice do people with learning disabilities really have if there is only one model of support for them and

  •  how many other services that people rely on are also suffering from this gradual restriction on council funding?



 You will be aware that over the past two years the Engine shed had been responding to the challenge brought about by the review undertaken by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) of their funding strategy for specialist employability service in Edinburgh.

These employability services to date have been delivered by six providers in Edinburgh, the Engine Shed being one of these.   A consultation took place towards the end of 2012/ early 2013, with a report published  recommending that CEC move to a commissioned service under one contract from April 2015 and this was endorsed by the Economic  Development Committee in September  last year.  This new funded service is to be based on a ‘supported employment ‘model i.e. where individuals are placed in work and then supported. As you know, The Engine Shed provides the route into employment through offering a training programme that links into employer placements and finally paid employment, a model that has a well-documented success rate for people with learning disabilities over  twenty five  years.

 What this means for the Engine Shed

 The Engine Shed will no longer receive funding for its training provision post March 2015 with the resultant loss of approximately forty percent of our income.  In reality, funding received from CEC, has decreased in value over the years due to a combination of budget cuts and stand still budgets and in fact we receive less now than we did ten years ago.  Alongside a steady decline in income through CEC, we have also had to face the fact that our income generated from the sale of our products has not grown at a level anticipated in our business plan.


 After much deliberation therefore, we have had to come to the regrettable decision that it is not feasible to continue our current operations because of lack of financial viability. This will mean that we will now plan how to wind down the current operations, which will in reality mean the closing down of the Engine Shed, over the next six months. Clearly, alongside this, we would like to explore the possibilities of developing a new approach to continue our work of supporting individuals with learning disabilities successfully access paid work in the future but this will be a separate piece of work and it will take time to examine the feasibility of a new venture.  We would very much like to put the experience we have accumulated over the past twenty five years to good use!


 Over the coming months we will work closely with all our current trainees and families to support them with future plans to ensure that they have access to the best possible future option available to them.


We appreciate the dedication of our staff and also the loyalty of all our stakeholders e.g. customers, employers, funders ( currently City of Edinburgh Council, Big Lottery, Robertson Trust ) and trainees and their families in working together over the years to make the Engine Shed such a successful and inspirational organisation. We know that we can count on your continued support to face the challenges ahead.

 Marian Macdonald, CEO


August 2014