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Minimum wage: a barrier to employment for disabled people

Damon Rose Damon Rose | 16:48 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

In a new twist to the debate on getting disabled people off benefits and back to work, a Conservative MP suggested to the House of Commons this morning that disabled people were unable to be competitive because of the existence of the minimum wage.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said:

"The people who are most disadvantaged by the national minimum wage are the most vulnerable in society."

Read the full story, with reactions, here:
MP says minimum wage a hindrance to disabled jobseekers

The MP argued that if a disabled person were able to offer their services at a lower rate, they would be a more attractive employment proposition and could build trust if taken on.

"If they were able to prove themselves earlier on and reassure the employer who took them on that they weren't causing a problem in a way that they might feel they were going to- I'm sure that there are a lot of myths out there as well - I'm sure that many of these people will be just as productive as people without a disability - but if they could take them on and give them a chance they would be able to find themselves moving up the pay rate much more quickly. At the moment they're just not getting any opportunity at all."

Mr Davies also suggested ex-prisoners might benefit from the abolition of the national minimum wage.

If an employer takes someone on at a rate lower than the NMW - presently £5.93 per hour for people over 21 - they risk receiving a large fine.

The bill - a private members bill on Employment Opportunities - was opposed by government today.


  • Comment number 1.

    Its obvious that some MP's and employers want to scrap the minimum wage. Start with the disabled and ex prisoners then everybody else.
    Philip Davies MP highlights the truth on the attitude of many employers when it comes to employing the mentally ill. Employers do not want to know in general. Of course this one in four sufferers nonsense spouted off by charities etc has done many of us no favours either.
    My view is Leave our welfare benefits alone, stop the witchhunt on so called "sickness benefit cheats" work is not good for everybody and is a detriment to peoples health in many cases.
    Those sick and disabled people that want to try work should be allowed to go voluntary not under threat of benefit sanctions time limited ESA
    The employer should be paid to provide the support not pay less wages.

  • Comment number 2.

    As Mr Davies doesn't have to pay any of his own utility bills, nor many of the financial out-goings that the rest of us have to do, perhaps he is not aware that disabled people need to eat, keep warm, have a roof over our heads like the rest of the population of Britain. How is working for below the minimum wage going to cover these out-goings??

  • Comment number 3.

    So Hitler said "works makes you free" as did Iain Duncan Smith a few weeks ago on Radio 4.

    Now the people who have been found "fit for work" by the Umum Provident, Mansel Aylward, DWP/ATOS computerised disability denial system, officially called LiMA but commonly know as Jesus because it cures all illness and disability, are being expected to work for free by a rabid right wing tory.

  • Comment number 4.

    See Saw Margery Daw,
    Johnny shall have a new master;
    Johnny shall earn but a penny a day,
    Because he can’t work any faster.

  • Comment number 5.

    Our concern is that, without adequate support to learn a job, some people with learning difficulties might struggle to prove their 'worth'. We would always argue fair and equal wages from day one but proper investment in support to help the person to learn the job and demonstrate the contribution that they can make to the workplace. With the right support in place this doesn't take long!

  • Comment number 6.

    wow, i am shocked!

    'I'm sure that many of these people will be just as productive as people without a disability'

    i know that i'm more capable than non-disabled people who are in the same field as me, what an insult! give us a chance but it's ok as you won't have to pay us a proper wage - pull the other one! i think a work placement with no chance of affecting benefits would be a better way of proving yourself, after all, disabled people still have the same outgoings as able bodied people!

  • Comment number 7.

    Philip Davies is simply a rent-a mouth-Tory eager to climb the slippery pole of I'll say anything you want as long as you promote me.

    He has about as much understanding as to how any disabililty already lowers social esteem as his minister for the disabled 'Killer Millar' who professes that people in wheelchairs don't need DLA because we can get about just like the rest of us - a view apparently also held by Sussex District Council & Eastbourne in East Sussex when it comes to dropping kerbs and providing real disability friendly buses not the halfway rattlewaggons Stagecoach provides with just one entrance & exit - try turning a large powerchair in that space - or even better go on the tube. A place I once was threatened with arrest for daring to venture down it's labrythian maze on my own!

    And once I've tacked all that - paid £8,000 for the chair - pre-booked a taxi - travel in the rushhour at a cost of roughly £3,000 a year and still can't use the tube - this idiot wants to allow my employer to fleece me on lower wages!

    To spout such rubbish I seriously wonder at the Mental Health of this Tory Drone - tellyou what Philip Davies - I'll give it a try if forgo all the income & benefits bestowed on you by the Parliamentary system.

  • Comment number 8.

    I totally understand the anger, pain, disillusion one feels when it comes to a lowering of the minimum wage. If the state wouldn't be the one who imposes this kind of limit to the employers, they would pay as little as the employee with a minimum experience would agree to receive for his work. In a crisis situation, there are a lot of workers who would accept much less that the minimum salary is.
    But, in the same time, I think there must be a balance between what an employer may pay, taking into account the risks he faces in a crisis situation and the minimum wage. There are so many foreign countries in which important firms can go, to hire people for a miserable salary (a trick a lot of companies already did, with a fair amount of success) The local companies' ability to maintain and create jobs would be severely impeded by an increase of the minimum wage.
    There must be done a compromise between higher wages and more jobs. The best protection for wages could be preserving jobs to keep people working. It’s the private sector that will drive the economic growth that will provide the jobs and tax revenues of the future.
    In an effort to do this kind of compromise between higher wages and the employer's ability to hire and pay people, there were some who suggested the minimum wage to be set regionally. A lower minimum wage in poorer areas might entice companies and businesses to move more to these poorer areas due to the cheaper labor. For people to afford a decent life, it the regions in which the minimum wage is lowered, the taxes must be cut, too. This could make labour cheaper, but still make it viable for people to live on a smaller income if set in the right way.
    But let's be straight about something: I surely can't agree with the fact that the ones who should be hired on less money should be a certain category of people, like the disabled. I can't possibly see the relation between being disabled and being less competitive.

  • Comment number 9.

    Those in authority seem to have their heads stuck in the clouds. The business of classifying the disabled as those to be hired for less is ignorant. Many disabled can offer so much more. The government is running around like a headless chicken making reforms without really taking the time to do thorough research on the consequences.


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