A Conservative minister faced calls to resign this week after revealing that disabled people could be paid less than the minimum wage.
Lord Freud, the government’s welfare reform minister, told a meeting at the Conservative Party conference last month that disabled people are ‘not worth’ the full minimum wage of £6.50, and could be made to work for as little as £2 an hour.
There have been widespread calls from the Labour Party for him to resign, while David Cameron has looked to distance himself from the comments.
With this in mind, MM took to the streets of Manchester to ask the following question
Should disabled people be paid the full minimum wage?
The result of the poll showed that the people of Manchester are in unanimous agreement that disabled people should 100% be paid the full wage, as MM were unable to find anyone to back Lord Freud’s viewpoint.
Sean Duffield, a 21-year-old student originally from Middlesbrough, said: “He [Lord Freud] is totally out of touch with the common people, just like the rest of the government.
“He has never had to cope with being disabled himself so he’s in no position to say anything.
“First the government try to take our civil liberties, then they disenfranchise the people by paying them less. Politicians all live in a little private bubble and it needs to be burst.”
John Duffy, a 40-year-old Manchester artist also believes the government is out of touch with the people.
He said: “I don’t see how you can differentiate between disabled and able bodied people here. It should all be equal and not discriminatory.
“I’m not surprised that someone in government has said that, I expect it’s something the government as a whole agrees with, and we need to get them out at the next election.”
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Geoff Watson, from Hebden Bridge, added that the desire for further cuts could be behind the minister’s comments.
“It is pure discrimination, everyone is capable of doing different jobs” the 54-year-old IT engineer said.
“I suppose it comes down to the government looking at more cuts, but they should be dealing with the underlying problems instead of punishing people like this.”
Will Lewis, a 20-year-old student from Huddersfield, said: “Disabled people definitely shouldn’t be paid less – nobody can live off £2 an hour.
“They can’t help being disabled and if anything they should get paid more, and the government should pick on the people who can afford it.”
Peter Charnock, 26 from Bolton, has firsthand experience of working alongside disabled people.
He said: “I work at Asda and there’s a guy there with Down’s Syndrome – he can do the job just as well as I can. They should pay everyone equally.”
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Christopher Gupta, 32, a post-graduate student from Blackpool said: “I see plenty of disabled people working and studying at university and they are all perfectly capable.
“They should be treated in exactly the same way as you would anyone else. I think what he said is disgusting.”
Waitress Chelsea Masterson, 19, from Chester, said: “I’m dyspraxic and was once told that I couldn’t do a particular job because of that, which I found really unfair.
“This is a lot worse, it’s completely unfair to generalise and label people like that. I think he should resign.”
Sangi Sen, a 40-year-old Bradford accountant, was also clear that disabled people merit the same pay as able bodied people.
She said: “Disabled people put in a huge effort to work and they shouldn’t be deprived of the opportunity to earn.
“As long as they receive the proper training and support there is absolutely no reason they can’t do the job as well as anyone else.”
OUT OF TOUCH: Sean Duffield thinks politians ‘live in a bubble’
Sass Lafferty, a 19-year-old student from Bathgate in Scotland, said: “It’s outrageous that they would even consider this.
“Disabled people need the money to live. I was getting £3.72 an hour working 40 hours a week and that was not enough to live on.
“These politicians get paid so much – maybe they should be made to work for £2 an hour.”
Fellow student Kirsty Martin, 20, from Cumbria added: “There’s been such a big thing about equality for all kinds of things in this country in recent years, so why should disabled people not be equal all of a sudden.
“They should be paid exactly the same.”
Image courtesy of I am Henry, via Flickr, with thanks.