During a Treasury Select Committee yesterday, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, responded to a question about a 0.1% fall in UK productivity earlier this year; 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.”

These comments have caused outrage across the disability sector.

Ismail Kaji who has a learning disability and works in learning disability charity, Mencap’s Parliamentary team.

“Philip Hammond's words are very discriminatory to disabled people. For him to suggest any minority group is hurting the economy is not acceptable for someone in his position.

“To make claims about 12 million people in the UK and not show evidence is unacceptable. As someone with a learning disability , I know how hard it is to get a job. I went to over 50 interviews before landing my role and a big reason for that was employers thinking I would not be a good employee. The employment rate for people with a learning disability is just 5.8% and getting lower. For Philip Hammond to say something like this with no evidence is only going to make this worse.

“Helping people with a disability into employment will not only be good for the economy but for the future of our country. The Government should be pushing Access To Work, not spreading negative views of disabled workers that we know not to be true. If the Government is going to stay true to their commitment to get more disabled people into employment, then this is not the way to do it.”


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk.

Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education , employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.