- Chancellor said low productivity was caused by disabled people entering work
- Hammond’s remark came as he gave eidence to the Treasury Select Committee
- Disability groups demanded he withdraw the claim and apologise today
Philip Hammond was condemned today for claiming the UK’s grim productivity figures were caused by more disabled people joining the workforce.
The Chancellor made the jibe during evidence to MPs and was immediately branded ‘appalling’ and ‘ignorant’.
Disability charities today piled pressure on the Chancellor to apologise for his remarks.
British workers’ productivity – the value of work done by each worker – has been in the doldrums since the financial crisis and prompted huge downgrades to growth forecasts at last month’s Budget.
Philip Hammond was condemned today for claiming the UK’s grim productivity figures were caused by more disabled people joining the workforce
Mr Hammond was challenged on why productivity was stubbornly low during an evidence session at the Treasury select committee yesterday.
He said: ‘The consequences of high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, will be felt for many, many years to come.’
The Chancellor then added: ‘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.’
Select Committee member John Mann said the Chancellor’s comments were ‘appalling’ and ‘ignorant’.
Fellow member Alison McGovern took to Twitter to say she was ‘pretty shocked actually’ while Labour colleague Marsha de Cordova branded his gaffe ‘disgusting scapegoating’
Just last week ministers announced plans to get 1 million more disabled people into employment over the next decade.
Labour MP John Mann took to Twitter to brand the remarks ‘appalling’ during the Treasury committee sitting
Mr Mann’s colleague Alison McGovern admitted she was ‘pretty shocked’ at the claims, made during the Treasury Select Committee hearing yesterday
In a separate gaffe last month Mr Hammond said there were ‘no unemployed people’ in the UK despite there being some 1.4 million out of work.
Anna Bird, the 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.’
She added: ‘The chancellor must urgently withdraw them and offer a full apology.’
Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, said: ‘The Chancellor must apologise to disabled people. His comments show ignorance about the contributions they make.
‘A sincere apology would include acting on our calls to provide the support people with MS need.
‘Just last week the Government missed the opportunity to do so – its new strategy on disability employment lacks the actions needed to address the challenges people face.
‘We’re urging the Government to take proper action on its ambitions to help more disabled people get into or stay in work.’