Philip Hammond blasted for suggesting disabled workers suppress UK productivity
Furious MPs blasted Philip Hammond today after he said disabled people could be stifling UK productivity figures.
The Chancellor said “increasing participation” in the workforce, “for example of disabled people,” might have “had an impact on overall productivity measurements”.
One prominent Labour MP said she was “pretty shocked” by his comments while another branded them “disgusting scapegoating”.
At the Autumn Budget last month Mr Hammond said sluggish productivity in the UK was to blame for plummeting growth figures.
Productivity per hour fell by 0.1% between March and June this year, despite people working more hours, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Asked about the dire numbers by the Treasury Select Committee today, Mr Hammond said: “The consequences of high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, will be felt for many, many years to come.”
He added: “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.”
Select Committee member John Mann said the Chancellor’s comments were “appalling” and “ignorant”.
Fellow member Alison McGovern took to Twitter to say she was “pretty shocked actually" while Labour colleague Marsha de Cordova branded his gaffe "disgusting scapegoating".
Just last week ministers announced plans to get 1 million more disabled people into employment over the next decade.
In a separate gaffe last month Mr Hammond said there were "no unemployed people" in the UK despite there being some 1.4 million out of work.
Elsewhere today the Chancellor was slapped down by Downing Street after he said the UK would pay the £50bn Brexit 'divorce bill' whether it strikes a trade deal with the EU or not.