Philip Hammond’s suggestion that disabled people could be responsible for the UK’s sluggish productivity is “extraordinarily ignorant,” a leading campaign group has said. The chancellor has been accused of “disgusting scapegoating.”
Hammond insinuated that “increasing participation” in the workforce of disabled people may have “had an impact on overall productivity measures.”
Disability Rights UK’s policy manager Philip Connolly told RT the chancellor’s comments are “extraordinarily ignorant” as they have no foundation in reality, and that disabled people are bound to feel “highly insulted” by them.
Connolly defended employed disabled people saying that far from creating a “drag effect,”they are “highly productive and contribute massively to the employers they work for.”
“Disabled people are underrepresented in the work force and if more of them were in-work they would provide more contribution to the economy,” he told RT.
The chancellor made the comments to a Treasury select committee when he was asked about low economic productivity levels.
“It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements,” Hammond said.
Anna Bird, the director of policy and research at Scope, branded his comments “unacceptable and derogatory.”
“They [comments] fundamentally undermine the government’s policy to get more disabled people into work, and the ambition set out by the prime minister just a week ago,” she said, according to the Guardian.
“The chancellor must urgently withdraw them and offer a full apology,” she added.
The shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, was among the many who took to Twitter to criticize the chancellor’s comments.
It comes after the UN published a damning report back in August claiming the UK is failing to uphold disabled people’s rights across different sectors.
A report by the UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found Britain had fallen short of complying with a UN convention enshrining the right of disabled to go about different areas of their lives without discrimination.
Shortly before that, Theresia Degener launched a scathing attack on the government’s welfare cuts which she said have created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.
A government spokesperson responded at the time saying: “The UK is a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality, which is why we supported the development of the UN convention.
“Almost 600,000 disabled people have moved into work over the last four years and we spend over £50 billion a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions, more than ever before.
“This first periodic review will help build on our progress to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives.”