Graham is Scope’s Engagement and Participation Manager. As a disabled person himself, with three disabled children, he had a strong reaction to Philip Hammond’s comments about productivity and disabled people. In this blog, “after a full day to calm down and sleep on it”, he responds and shares some other reactions.
It’s not based on any evidence
Firstly, as Scope colleagues and many others have said on social media, this statement hugely undermines the Government’s commitment to getting one million disabled people into work.
This wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark by Mr Hammond during an after-dinner speech – it was made in a formal Parliamentary committee meeting and broadcast to the world. So, apart from the slap in the face to working disabled people, he is contradicting Government policy.
His statement is not based on any evidence that anyone knows of. I’m extremely pleased that Scope has called out both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister on this slight.
I’ve contributed to the UK economy for over 43 years
Secondly, it feels quite personal. I’ve had my impairment since I was a child and have worked continuously (apart from study breaks) since age 17 when I joined a press agency in London as a trainee journalist.
I’ve since worked as mental health support worker, probation officer, supported housing officer, bookseller, policy wonk and project manager. During this time I haven’t avoided paying my income tax and have contributed to the UK’s economy for over 43 years. So being labelled as a problem for productivity would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious.
I worry for the next generation of disabled people, including my son
Thirdly, I worry for the next generation of disabled people. My youngest son is leaving university in a year or so, and my daughter has worked and has paid taxes for several years.
Despite my professional and personal campaigning on the inclusion of disabled people for 20 years or more, it is very clear we have a whole lot more to do if senior politicians still see us as drains on the economy and uninvestable. We need to be seen as active, empowered citizens.
And in addition to this novel stance – being seen as non-productive – the framing of disabled people as inherently “vulnerable” is another barrier that needs dismantling. I’m confident that Scope will continue to challenge received and dated ideas that diminish disabled people, and really promote everyday equality in all its senses.
It’s not just me who’s outraged, here’s what other people have told Scope
Laura via email:
“I am disgusted that a man in his position could say such a thing. We have enough issues to face daily without comments like that.
Every day I make a contribution to society along with so many others. These were very hurtful comments to read as I was getting up, getting ready and travelling to work!
I am pleased to see disabled people and organisations have pulled together today.”
Liam via Twitter:
“I just felt disappointed and confused, to be honest.
Aside from being derogatory, it was also a bizarre statement to make when the disability employment gap remains stagnant.”
Shona via Twitter:
“It’s just reinforcing what we already know, this government thinks disabled people are a problem.
What is even scarier is the government knows they can get away with saying things like that because they’ve created a society that sees disabled people as lesser.”
If you want to read more reactions to the Chancellor’s damaging and inaccurate comments, check out Scope’s Twitter moment.
Scope storytellers also shared their views in the media:
- Read Shani, Will and Carly’s thoughts in iNews
- Read Abbi, Liam and Shona’s reactions in BuzzFeed
- Read Will’s blog in the Huffington Post
Scope has written to the Prime Minister asking her to clarify her position and called on the Chancellor to withdraw his comments. We’ve also explained why his comments are damaging and inaccurate.