Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Not Worth It

You'd have to be away from all means of communication today to have not noticed that Lord Freud thinks that disabled people "aren't worth" the minimum wage. Surprisingly even the mainstream media are outraged; BBC News are leading with it.

I'm not going to go into depth about everything wrong with his initial remarks because it's already been covered extensively. If you're looking for comment pieces on his original remarks, I recommend this from Frances Ryan, or this from Richard Exell.

The only things I have to add on the subject of his initial statement are these:

  1. He's not the first Tory to say this during this term of government. Philip Davies said the same thing in 2011. Then there is Cllr David Scott who raised the idea of us being not "worth" it with Freud. It's starting to seem like a common thought in the Conservative party.
  2. Disabled people make more reliable employees than non-disabled people. A report by DePaul University in the US found that disabled people stay with an employer for longer, take less time off, and are "loyal, reliable, and hardworking.". That doesn't sound to me like people who are "not worth" even the minimum wage, does it?
  3. Disabled people currently in work are having their ability to do their job screwed about with by the hideous mess this coalition have made of Access to Work. Read Julie's and Jess's accounts. These are people worth more than the minimum wage, having their capability undermined by an incompetent government.
  4. Over 50,000 disabled people in work may be forced to quit their job by DLA cuts. Again, people who are perfectly good at their jobs being prevented from functioning by a government that aren't good at their jobs.

What interests me more is Freud's piss-take of an apology. He said:

I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. That is why through Universal Credit – which I referred to in my response – we have increased overall spending on disabled households by £250m, offered the most generous work allowance ever, and increased the disability addition to £360 per month.

From Spectator Coffeehouse.

We all know that he doesn't give a toss about disabled people. Increased spending on disabled households? Tell that to the 394,000 people waiting for their ESA claim to be processed so they can put food on the table. Or the 145,000 people waiting for their PIP claim to be processed so they can afford to pay for a wheelchair or for someone to get them out of bed in the morning. Or the bedroom tax victims: Three quarters of whom have a disabled person in the family. Or the people who currently get DLA because they're only capable of walking less than 50 metres, but will lose it under PIP because they can walk more than 20 metres. Or all the terminally ill people who've been deemed "fit for work" like Larry Newman or Cecilia Burns.

And as for Universal Credit increasing spending on disabled households: They're abolishing the Severe Disability Premium under UC. Not replacing it with something a bit stricter - like the move from DLA to PIP - they're just abolishing it. The country's 230,000 most severely disabled people will be significantly worse off under Universal Credit.

While it's great that the mainstream media are - for a change - coming to disabled people's defence over Freud's original remarks: Why are they accepting his apology without delving into the outright lies it contains?

Edit 16/10/14: Yet another Tory thinks the minimum wage is "A barrier to work". She too presumably was complicit in the DLA cuts which will force disabled people to quit work (the Tories were whipped to vote for cuts.)

Even Mr Money Saving Expert himself thinks disabled people should be exempt from the minimum wage:

Remember yesterday when people thought disabled people were worth it? What a great day. Shame it's "shit on those disableds" business as usual again today.

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