Molly Mattingly, Assistant Director of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, has responded to Philip Davies MP’s comments that “vulnerable" jobseekers, including people with disabilities, should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage:
"Today, Philip Davies MP (Conservative, Shipley) commented that jobseekers with learning disabilities should be allowed to offer to work for less than the minimum wage because “some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, can't be as productive in their work as somebody who hasn't got a disability of that nature”.
Mr Davies’ suggestion that the discrimination and lack of understanding faced by people with learning disabilities in the workplace means that they should work for less than is deemed acceptable for everyone else displays a breathtaking ignorance and is deeply offensive.
His subsequent claims on Twitter and elsewhere that he was merely repeating comments made by other people are no excuse – he is an elected member of parliament and has a responsibility to think about what he is saying before making such idiotic comments.
Many people with learning disabilities and mental health problems are perfectly capable of performing very ably in a wide range of professions. What the government should be doing is looking to reduce the stigma attached to learning disabilities and mental health problems, and helping people find and retain the jobs that match their skills – not further stigmatising them by forcing them to work for wages that are illegal for everyone else.
We are now looking to the Prime Minister and Mr Davies’ other colleagues in the coalition to swiftly distance themselves from these potentially harmful comments.
Mr Davies’ comments, and the fact that he appears to not understand the difference between mental health problems and learning disabilities, suggests that he lacks the appropriate understanding to be commenting on these issues. I’d advise him to read up it a bit more before opening his mouth in future."