David Freud

David Freud

In an apparent bid to “incentivise” more disabled people to work, one Tory minister has suggested that “disabled people are not worth the minimum wage”.

Over privileged Tory “Lord” David Freud, suggested that some should be paid less than £2 an hour, instead of the usual £6.50.

In the recording made during a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference two weeks ago, the peer suggested that some disabled people should “be given the option” of working for £2 an hour.

In response to a question from a councillor, he said: “You make a really good point about the disabled. Now I had not thought through, and we have not got a system for, you know, kind of going below the minimum wage.”

He added: “There is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage, and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”

Lord Freud has since been forced into making an ‘apology’ and added that he “was foolish to accept the premise of the question.”

Without a hint of irony, he then added that he cares “passionately” about disabled people.

However, Freud is not the only Tory minister to suggest depriving disabled people of the minimum wage. This is not the first time Freud has attracted criticism. He was once Freud was also once criticised for saying:  “People who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks; they’ve got least to lose.”

He then added: “‘We have, through our welfare system, created a system which has made them reluctant to take risks so we need to turn that on its head and make the system predictable so that people will take those risks. I think we have a dreadful welfare system.”

 In 2011, Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, claimed people with disabilities or mental health problems were at a disadvantage because they could not offer to work for less money.

He added that easing restrictions on minimum wage would help the disabled to “compete for jobs in the real world”, in which they are “by definition” less productive than workers without disabilities.

Under the guise of showing concern for those living with disabilities, he said that employers would be less likely to choose them over an able-bodied person.

However, campaigners and disability charities have argued that rather than pandering to some employer prejudices, they should instead be challenged.

Sophie Corlett, from the mental health charity, Mind, said: “People with mental health problems should not be considered a source of cheap labour and should be paid appropriately for the jobs they do.”

Despite the outrage caused by his remarks, Mr Davies instead blamed the opposition to his comments on “left-wing hysteria”.

The latest comments by Freud coincided with the announcement of a scheme by Iain Duncan Smith who said that those with more than six months to live should be forced to do unpaid work experience in exchange for benefits.

Despite being physically unable to work – hence the reason for claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – disabled people would be forced to stock shelves at supermarkets like Aldi and Tescos in exchange for the right to keep receiving welfare payments.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Under a plan being announced by George Osborne, workers could be forced to pay at least £5 a week into a personal ‘welfare account’ to get higher benefits if they lose their job.

This new system would link the amount people receive in benefits to how much they have paid in.

All of this has been announced as part of a drive to “extend personal responsibility”.

Essentially, it would be another tax in which The Policy Exchange plan would set up a “compulsory collective insurance scheme”, into which everyone working more than 20 hours a week would pay £5 a week.

The scheme would be run by private-sector providers such as insurers and fund managers.

The government claims this would end a “something for nothing” culture. This new announcement comes after it was announced that MPs will get a ten per cent pay rise. MPs will also be able to hide the amount of expenses they claim. In addition, their reason for claiming expenses will also be concealed.

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