Last week at the Treasury select committee, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond MP answered a question about the cause of poor productivity by implying that the UK’s poor productivity levels were the result of disabled people in the workforce.
“It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including higher participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.∏
UNISON disabled members are outraged by this inaccurate and incendiary statement. There is absolutely no evidence to back up his assertion, which is an insult to all disabled workers.
In the context of years of austerity that has disproportionately affected disabled people and a disability employment gap that, despite repeated commitments from the government, isn’t decreasing, these comments seriously call into question the government’s assertion that they want to support disabled people into the workplace
Our hardworking disabled members already experience high levels of discrimination in the workplace and barriers to accessing and retaining employment, comments such as these only make things worse and legitimise prejudice against disabled workers. We will not be used as a scapegoat for the government’s failed economic policies.
The Chancellor should issue a full apology for his statement and the government should endeavour to work alongside trade unions, disabled people’s organisations and other civil society organisations to tackle the challenges faced by disabled people in work.