In yesterday’s Treasury Select Committee Meeting, the Chancellor of the Exchequor, Philip Hammond, responded to a question about a fall in the UK’s productivity rates by saying:

“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.”

In response to the Chancellor’s remarks, Tim Cooper, Chief Executive of United Response said:

“We are shocked and extremely disappointed by the Chancellor’s comments, which come just one week after the Government pledged to increase the numbers of people with disabilities in work.

“From our extensive experience, we know that people with disabilities are valuable members of the UK’s workforce, yet there are many barriers they have to face to find employment and reach their full potential. Sadly the number of people with a learning disability in work remains woefully low, with just 5.8% in paid employment. The Chancellor’s derogatory remarks serve only to marginalise this already disenfranchised group further from the workplace.

“We urge the Chancellor to apologise for his comments immediately and show real commitment to the Government’s ambition of supporting greater numbers of people with disabilities into work.

“We are currently working with MPs to pilot a work experience scheme for people with learning disabilities, highlighting the valuable contribution they can offer to any workplace. We would welcome the Chancellor’s participation in this scheme, to see first hand the positive impact people with disabilities can have on the workplace and dispel any myths around poor productivity.”