Philip Hammond blames low productivity on disabled workers

Chancellor Philip Hammond in Downing Street

caption
Chancellor Philip Hammond in Downing Street
source
Toby Melville/Reuters

  • Philip Hammond called “ignorant” after suggesting low productivity rates were because of more disabled people working.
  • The chancellor told the Treasury Select Committee that more disabled people working “may have had an impact” on productivity.
  • Labour MP John Mann says the remarks are “appalling.”

LONDON – Philip Hammond has been criticised after linking low productivity rates to higher amounts of disabled people working in the UK.

The chancellor told MPs at the Treasury Select Committee that “very high levels of engagement in the workforce” of disabled people “may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.”

Labour MP John Mann, a member of the committee, said the remarks were “appalling” and “ignorant” in a tweet.

Anna Bird, director of policy and research at disability charity Scope, told HuffPost: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory.

Asked about a fall in productivity rates in 2017, Hammond replied that: “The consequences of high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, will be felt for many, many years to come.

“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.”

Mann tweeted: “Appalling. 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.”

Bird said the remarks “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 productivity measured by output per hour fell 0.1% between March and June, according to ONS figures. The fall came despite more people being in work and working more hours.

The government aims to get one million more disabled people into work over the course of a 10-year plan, halving the difference between employment rates for disabled and non-disabled people, which stood at 32% in 2016.

Labour’s shadow disabilities minister Marsha de Cordova tweeted that it was “shocking that Philip Hammond is trying to blame disabled people for low productivity!

“Disabled people contribute enormously and disability employment gap has barely changed since productivity started to stall. Disgusting scapegoating!”

A spokesperson for the prime minister told Business Insider: “The government is hugely proud of its efforts and record of getting disabled people back into work which the prime minister thinks makes a huge contribution to the economy and wider society.”