Minister Claims Some Disabled People ‘Not Worth’ the Minimum Wage
It was revealed yesterday by the Labour Party that the Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, had said during a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference two weeks ago, that some disabled people weren’t ‘worth the full wage’.
He was answering a question about Universal Credit as to what was to be done with disabled individuals who desired to work but ‘to be frank aren’t worth the minimum wage’.
Lord Freud agreed saying, ‘You make a really good point about the disabled. There is a group where actually, as you say, they’re not worth the full wage.’ He would have to ‘think about that particular issue’, and whether anything could be done for someone who wanted to work for ‘£2 an hour’.
The Conservative Employment Minister, Esther McVey, immediately distanced herself from his remarks, and said, ‘Those words will haunt him. I cannot justify those words. They are wrong.’
The Liberal Democrats declared the remarks to be completely unacceptable and called for Lord Freud to be sacked.
The Labour Leader Ed Miliband made the revelation during an angry question and answer session in the House of Commons between himself and the Prime Minister David Cameron. After being requested for his view on the matter, David Cameron said, ‘Of course disabled people should be paid the minimum wage and the minimum wage under this government is going up and going up in real terms. It is now at £6.50. We will be presenting our evidence to the low pay commission, calling for another real terms increase in the minimum wage.’
Miliband countered by arguing that Lord Freud surely couldn’t stay in government if he held such beliefs, to which David Cameron responded, ‘Those are not the views of the government, they are not the views of anyone in the government. The minimum wage is paid to everybody, disabled people included.’
As David Cameron previously had a child who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy who died in 2009, he added that he would take no further lectures on disabled people.
Two hours later Lord Freud issued an apology: ‘I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. All disabled people should be paid at least minimum wage, without exception. I accept it is offensive to suggest anything else.’
David Cameron then declared his ‘full support’ for the minister, however calls are still being that he should resign.