In the news this week The Huffington Post reported that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond implied disabled people are the reason for the ‘sluggish economy’. There has been a backlash from disability organisations and others for this scapegoating. His comments come during Disability History month, a time which celebrates progress in equality for disabled people.
My first concern is what kind of message does this send to potential employers of disabled people? Excellent employability campaigns have been launched by Leonard Cheshire (Untapped Talent) and Scope (Work with me) aim to get more disabled people into work.
His implications directly undermine the hard work these charities are doing to improve the prospects of disabled people, and last week’s commitment by the Government to get 1M disabled people into work by 2027.
Hammond’s comments are also problematic because they reinforce the damaging notion that productivity defines people’s value to society. According to this idea, people who can’t produce aren’t valuable. It presumes that disabled people cannot be productive and therefore aren’t valuable.
This prejudice is one of the main misconceptions stopping disabled people from becoming valued workplace members in the first place.
I’ve posted before about Access To Work (the government scheme to help disabled people make adjustments to their work and travel) not being pushed enough. As the Mencap statement about Hammond’s comments asks, why isn’t that being promoted instead?
Given that the government has not saved the Treasury £4BN by introducing Personal Independence Payments (PIP) it seems particularly rich of Hammond to imply that disabled people are at fault when it comes to the economy.
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- If you are a disabled person who needs help through Access to Work, you can apply through the government website.
- You can follow Disability History month on Twitter here and join in that conversation using #UKDHM