Fury at Chancellor’s “derogatory” disabled comments

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​Hammond must retract and apologise, say charities

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7th December 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been savaged for making “totally unacceptable and derogatory comments” about disabled people.

There was astonishment among charities when the Number 11 money man told a House of Commons select committee meeting that those with disabilities are responsible for the UK’s sluggish economy.

When asked about low economic productivity levels, he said: “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.”

He immediately drew fire from disability campaigners, who demanded a retraction and a full apology.

Richard Kramer, deputy chief executive of Sense, said: “It is shocking to hear the Chancellor’s comments, blaming Britain’s fall in economic productivity on working disabled people.

“Just last week the government renewed its commitment to increase the amount of disabled people in work, recognising the important role that meaningful employment plays for disabled people and wider society.

“Philip Hammond’s comments undermine these ambitions completely and many disabled workers will be appalled at such outdated negative stereotypes being reinforced by the Chancellor.”

Anna Bird, director of policy and research at Scope, said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory. They 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.

“The chancellor must urgently withdraw them and offer a full apology.”

Labour MP John Mann, who is a member of the committee, said the chancellor’s remarks were “appalling”.

He said: “Chancellor just linked low productivity growth to the labour market and specified the increased employment of disabled people.

“My experience of employing disabled people is that they are brilliant employees. The chancellor’s comments are ignorant.”

Susan Daniels OBE, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, added: “The Chancellor’s comments are deeply worrying. As the profoundly deaf chief executive of a leading charity, I’ve ignored everyone who ever told me to limit my ambitions and rein in my expectations.

“Given the right support a deaf person can do anything a hearing person can, yet we know that 56% of deaf people have experienced discrimination at work and 25% have left a job as a result.

"In its words and actions the government needs to show complete commitment to breaking down the barriers to employment for deaf young people and others with disabilities. Anything less is unacceptable."

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