An Oldham MP has accused Iain Duncan Smith MP of making up the numbers of employers committed to supporting disabled people at last year’s Tory Conference.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that despite Duncan Smith claiming more than 1,000 employers were part of the government’s Disability Confident Scheme, only 400 had in fact signed-up, with 68 currently active.
The revelation comes ahead of the Department for Work and Pensions minister delivering a speech to this year’s Conservative Party Conference, currently being held in Manchester.
Debbie Abrahams, shadow minister for disabled people and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, said that Duncan Smith ‘breached ministerial code’.
“This FoI has exposed yet again how deceptive Iain Duncan Smith can be,” said Mrs Abrahams.
“This sort of inflated claim should be seen as inappropriate from anyone.
“The fact that Iain Duncan Smith is a senior government minister and repeatedly misleads the public, as well as Conservative party members, is totally unacceptable.”
The Disability Confident Scheme aims to remove barriers for disabled people into employers by working with employers and raising awareness about disability in the workplace
But of the 68 employers currently active with the scheme 33 are disability or diversity organisations, leaving only 35 of the active participants from recruitment and training companies, although big companies such as Asda, Honda and Marks and Spencer are involved.
Ms Abrahams also reflected on Duncan Smith’s attitude towards those with disabilities, saying that he ‘abuses his position’ and ‘manipulates data’ to create the impression government policies were for the benefit of disabled people.
She said: “The truth is this government spends more time and effort trying to smear disabled people who claim social security, by labelling them ‘shirkers’ or ‘work-shy,’ than actually doing anything meaningful to support them.”
Debbie Abrahams has written to the Prime Minister regarding the issue, but says David Cameron does not believe Duncan Smith had breached of ministerial code.
Image courtesy of George Robbins, with thanks