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Philip Davies MP’s Comments On Minimum Wage For Disabled People

June 17, 2011

I’ve been offline for most of today and have just read about Philip Davies MP’s comments on the minimum wage for people with disabilities. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In a Commons debate today on the national minimum wage, he said that “vulnerable” jobseekers – including disabled people – should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage.

He explained that the minimum wage may be a hindrance’ to some jobseekers, including people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, because it puts these groups of people at a disadvantage, since they have to compete with non disabled candidates for jobs and could not offer to accept lower pay.

He said he had talked to people with mental health problems during a visit to a surgery run by the charity Mind, and they had “accepted” that they would be passed over in favour of jobseekers without disabilities.

“Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk,” he said.

He added that if disabled people wished to work for less than the minimum wage for a short period of time to help them get their first job, then he did not see why the Government should be standing in their way.

I’m absolutely shocked at this whole incident. This idea goes against every law I’ve ever heard of. If an MP, who is supposed to be helping to create laws to protect everyone in society from situations exactly like the one he suggested, doesn’t see anything wrong with revealing such outdated views, then what should disabled people be expecting from the rest of society? Disabled people are not second-class citizens, or, as Mind spokesperson Sophie Corlett put it, ”cheap labour.” Why should we be exploited in the workplace?

As a disabled person who has worked, I have seen for myself that there are very few employers who are willing to accept disabled employees. However, I sincerely hope that this has very little to do with any reluctance to pay them a minimum wage as a result of disability. It has more to do with a reluctance to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to meet their needs in the workplace. This is often because such adjustments are expensive or inconvenient- they could include allowing regular leave for medical appointments or hospital stays.

Labour MP Dame Anne Begg summarises my views on the incident very well with her response: “To say that all disabled people should be excluded from the coverage of the minimum wage … would be discriminatory against disabled people. It would set the cause of equality for disabled people back sometime to the middle of the last century.”

I am relieved to read the response of a Conservative Party spokesman who said:These comments do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party and do not reflect government policy”.

Disabled people are already being affected so much more than most by the Government’s spending cuts and plans for welfare reform. The Welfare Reform Bill will affect us directly with its cuts to Disability Living Allowance and time-limiting of Employment Support Allowance. With all the publicity surrounding these plans, we already feel lazy and useless- this incident makes us feel even worse. I can’t help wondering why we are going to be hit so hard by these plans- is it because the Government really does think we are worth less than the rest of society?

If the Conservative Party really wants to distance itself from these comments, the Prime Minister should call for Philip Davies to make a full and public apology to all disabled people as soon as possible.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 10:48 pm

    I’m 49 years old, have Asperger’s syndrome and have never worked. In order to get my first job I need to be able to offer an employer something, and I think that being able to work for less than minimum wage might just do it.

    I doubt that financially I’d be any worse off due to the complicated interaction between the various benefits I receive and the fees I have to pay to Social Services for my care.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  2. samedifference1 permalink*
    June 17, 2011 11:10 pm

    Lee954- Are you being sarcastic?

  3. June 17, 2011 11:12 pm

    No, I’m deadly serious. I cannot imagine any other way in which an employer would even consider offering me a job. Ideally I wouldn’t actually be working for less than minimum wage, just that the employer would be paying me less than minimum wage and the jobcentre would make up the difference.

  4. samedifference1 permalink*
    June 17, 2011 11:26 pm

    So do you agree with Philip Davies MP’s views then?

  5. June 17, 2011 11:29 pm

    Yes; and not just for people with disabilities; but also for anyone who’s having serious problems entering the workforce. I would not approve of there being any coercion though, just that people are able to volunteer to opt out of the minimum wage.

  6. samedifference1 permalink*
    June 17, 2011 11:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Dino permalink
    June 17, 2011 11:57 pm

    This Davies character disgusts me. It is unacceptable for anyone (let alone a politician) to even suggest that the disabled are less entitled to fundamental civil and human rights than their able-bodied counterparts. Instead of offering the disabled up as free/cheap labour, Davies needs to address his own prejudices and hatred and those of his corporate cronies. How dare he suggest that any sector of society is “less productive” than another. How dare he liken the disabled to convicted criminals (as he just did on the radio). I did not choose to be disabled. I am not disabled as the result of my own misdeeds. I should not be held responsible for the ignorance and hatred of others. How dare he suggest that the disabled need to “prove themselves” worthy. The problem lies with him/employers, not the abilities of the disabled.

  8. Disilusioned22 permalink
    June 22, 2011 4:17 pm

    I was smiling and laughing in dismay and in disgust. Now, it is the disabled who are discriminated against, and they want to implement a lower than minimum wage for people with disabilities???We had Jewish people being treated like dirt, and second class citizens, then we had black people or people of other colours except white. And now, Us??

    Gosh,. does that mean that we cannot do the same work as another person, just because we have, perhaps a physical disability? Balderdash! My brain is still functioning even though, my body is letting me down. I can still use my brain, and compared to many “able” bodied people, I could discriminate against them, and insult them for being ignorant and stupid.

    I understand that the article spoke mainly of people with mental illnesses. I have a mental illness as well, I am still saying that I am not useless or less capable of carrying out tasks, just because I am different.

    After reading all the slaying of the disabled, and the insults, the lack of respect towards us, we should all stand or sit or lay down, whatever may be the case, and be proud of being different. That’s what sets us apart….

    I can’t help but smile…I know it is not funny, however, what are we supposed to do, cry? That’s probably what they want. Kill our spirit and let us rot….NO WAY!


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  2. Lord Freud Urged To Resign For Saying Disabled People ‘Not Worth’ Minimum Wage | Same Difference
  3. Rosa Monckton Says Learning Disabled Workers Should Be Allowed To Work Below The Minimum Wage | Same Difference

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