Last week, Conservative backbencher Philip Davies controversial comments which implied that the minimum wage could be a “hindrance” to some jobseekers who may be disabled, sparked an angry response from various charities
The comments were made during a Commons debate about employment opportunities and disability equality in the workplace.
Mr Davies, the MP for Shipley, suggested that if an organisation is required to choose between one candidate that has a disability and one that does not, it is more likely to take on a worker who does not have disabilities.
He argued: “My view is that for some people, the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.
“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”
Mental health charity Mind called the politician’s remarks “preposterous” and pointed out that already fewer than four in ten employers consider hiring staff with mental health problems.
Sophie Corlett, the organisation’s director of external relations, told the BBC: “People with mental health problems should not be considered a source of cheap labour and should be paid appropriately for the jobs they do.”
Figures from the charity show more than half of people with mental health illnesses are living on a household income of less than Ã‚Â£200 per week.
“Paying people with mental health problems less money than non-disabled people will not help them into work, it will just widen the poverty gap,” Ms Corlett insisted.