Freud should be sacked for saying disabled workers are “not worth the full wage”

Labour were quick to get this infographic out to the public.

Labour were quick to get this infographic out to the public.

One of Labour’s biggest mistakes when in government – the employment of David Fraud – sorry, Freud – could soon be rectified after he made a disastrous comment at the Conservative Party conference.

At Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 15), he was revealed to have said on September 30: “There is a group… where actually… they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually” [make it possible for them to do so].

Labour leader Ed Miliband, challenging David Cameron to act on the remarks, said they represented the Tories’ “worst instincts”.

Cameron’s response – that these “were not the views of anyone in government” – was appallingly weak. Clearly they were: Lord Freud is, after all, a member of the government.

Commentators across the UK, watching the exchange on TV or the Internet, were quick to comment on the fact that Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Freud’s boss, was seen scuttling out of the House of Commons before PMQs ended.

Freud entered frontline politics when in 2006 he was appointed by Tony Blair to review social security, and devised the now-hated system which features expanded private-sector involvement and forces people on incapacity benefits to try to find a way back into “economic activity”.

In 2008 he was rehired to advise James Purnell, and helped produce a white paper requiring most people receiving benefits to participate in some form of mandatory work activity, as it is now known.

Then in February 2009, he joined the Conservative Party. That should have been a strong indicator to Labour that they had been harbouring a viper in their midst, and should have been all the reason needed to rip out his social security changes and put in something more humane. Alas, Labour missed the chance.

He was given a life peerage as Baron Freud in June that year and became a welfare minister in 2010, when the Coalition sidled into office.

Freud was quickly in trouble with the public for misrepresenting the level of fraud in welfare claims – perhaps this is where his own nickname, ‘Lord Fraud’ originates. He said fraud was very high, when in fact the amount was – and remains – negligible. This did not stop the Conservative-led DWP from instituting punitive measures against benefit claimants, ostensibly to minimise a problem that involved less than one per cent of claimants.

His list of misdemeanours is long, and some of the others are detailed in the articles mentioned below.

Are we to witness a long-overdue sacking, perhaps?

Further reading:

Let’s make abuse of power a crime and Lord Freud the first to be prosecuted

Bedroom tax decision: So Cameron has committed contempt of Parliament too – Bedroom Tax architect Lord Freud lives in an eight-bedroom mansion

Was political propaganda as blatant as this under Labour? – The ‘Claimant Commitment’

Turncoat Tory’s blue-sky talk can’t hide the damning truth – Welfare policies are pushing wages down

Is this the DWP’s latest statistics fix? – The benefit cap

UK government refuses to accept responsibility for crimes against humanity

‘In Memory of My Pop a WWI Soldier, who Fought for Honesty and Freedom’ – Cumulative impact assessment of welfare ‘reforms’ on benefit claimants is impossible, according to Freud.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Bill Kruse October 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Freud’s right. There are a group of disableds who, from a purely economic POV, under some circumstances aren’t worth paying the min wage. They can’t work fast enough to generate the business to make hiring them economically viable at that wage. Businesses aren’t charities after all. However, something’s going on here I think as on this page earlier it had the full context including an audio clip of the exchange and transcripts. Now it’s a 404. Try putting that link into Facebook somewhere to see the preview of what was there before. It’s weird it’s been removed. Freud’s statement made a lot more sense in its full context. That’s all gone now. There’s still a page about all this on the site but it has a fraction of the info which was there before. Anyhoo, Freud wasn’t saying that disableds in general aren’t worth the min wage at all, which is what’s erroneously being reported all over the shop. Kick him out by all means, he has never had any justifiable place in government, but economically speaking he’s right in what he said in this instance.

    • Vikki October 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      Bill if your going to belittle a disabled person could you at least spell the word right…. Why can’t they be paid the same ways as everyone else my son works hard in his job and also doing a post graduate course

      • Bill Kruse October 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

        If he does the same job to the same standard as others then of course he should be paid the same. If he doesn’t, if he works to a lower standard, then it’s a commercial reality he should expect to be paid less, no matter how hard he has to work to achieve substandard results (if that indeed’s what they are). The reality that’s not being faced here is that many disableds, through no fault of their own at all, can’t properly support themselves through work – but wish that they could and won’t face that they can’t.

  2. Jim Round October 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Yes, but I very much doubt he will be sacked.
    But the point about hiring disabled workers has raised it’s head again.
    What WOULD make any employers hire someone with a learning disability for example?
    In this tough, globalised, race to the bottom world, employers have a ready made excuse.
    There are a million plus able bodied people looking for work, and wether you agree or not, they will 99% of the time be ahead of a disabled applicant.
    On a side note, I also would like Labour to ask for a detailed breakdown of the latest unemployment figures.
    How many are sanctioned, on zero hour contracts, part/full time self employed etc..
    Those figures seem very suspicious to me.

    • Mike Sivier October 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      I was having a discussion with Jonathan Portes of NIESR about the stats on Twitter, earlier today. The government only releases some of the figures – we don’t get stats for people who have claimed ESA and are waiting for a decision, or for those who are in ‘mandatory reconsideration’ purgatory. So how many people are really going through the system?
      Many, many more than the government is saying.

      • Jim Round October 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm - Reply

        So much for Cameron’s “transparent” government then.
        Any thoughts on my original point Mike?

        • Mike Sivier October 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm - Reply

          It’s a big question. I did try to get a discussion going on the Spectator web page where Freud’s apology was posted. Someone was saying disabled people can’t provide the value needed to justify the minimum wage and I pointed out that it could be argued disabled people deserved more than the minimum wage because they had to put far more effort, just into being there at all.

    • Vikki October 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Jim my son has learning difficulties he goes to collage doing his post graduate course and will be setting up his own business so I don’t under stand your comment why would any employer would hire someone like him why not he can still do the job as anyone else’s

      • Jim Round October 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm - Reply

        Vikki, I am in not saying that employers should not employ someone with learning difficulties, what I am saying that in the current environment of “I want it done yesterday” an appilcant with (wrongly in my view by the way) gets pushed to the back of the queue.
        The excuse is that employers don’t have the time for the extra training, something I have seen happen on many occasions.
        This is where the debate is needed, and at the moment, like a lot of things, we aren’t getting it.
        Good luck to your son by the way.

      • Bill Kruse October 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm - Reply

        We should remind ourselves here a German firm specifically hires autistic people, regarded by many as disabled, in preference over others as they value the legendary thoroughness with which they approach every task. Perhaps the learning disabled have some as yet undiscovered perspective which will make them valuable over ‘normal’ people to a group of perceptive employers some day.

      • Mozart October 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm - Reply

        Jim your comment has been borne out of no understanding and therefore may I suggest that when you make such comments you do your homework around the topic before making such statements.

        There are many people in this country working whilst having a learning disability. Many those with learning difficulties that are working, are punctual, grateful and hardworking and actually DO WANT TO WORK, less said that the majority of the able bodied people.

        I know of many disabled people who have their own businesses and have done the hard graft to get their, so please don’t get on your high horse and assume these things. Do your homework, get your facts straight and then make your comment.

    • Jim Round October 16, 2014 at 4:27 am - Reply

      I think my comment has been mis-interpreted, I was saying we should have a debate on why employers treat people this way.
      We helped a young lad who started work and because he was “not up to the standard of his peers after his first week”
      This upset him as it made him feel inadequate and he decided to leave if that’s how he would be treated.
      There was another scenario where, because it would take more than the standard time to train her, a young woman was overlooked for a role.
      I am well aware that many disabled people have jobs, and so they should l as they have lots to offer.
      Again, I’m simply saying that we need a thorough discussion on the attitude of employers. (and society)

  3. Florence October 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Sacked? I hope he is charged under the Disability Discrimination Act by someone and after conviction & prison have his title revoked and be removed from the House.

    Yet again, they are revealing the eugenicist & Social Darwin inner-monster in the heart of the Tory party. I am just glad it was Miliband who raised this – we need them to take the lead on a lot more of this type of campaigning issues to show who the Labour party really represent against what the ConDems mean.

    It is really worrying that this makes the abuse so far of the disabled & chronically ill look like just an opening ploy, with the “Fit to Work” WCA open to even more torture. Would Fraud suggest that a WCA will dictate what “pay band” of “crip and mong & useless eater” I will be placed in next time my ESA is reviewed?

    It just gives a flavour of what they have planned when they revoke the Human Rights treaties.

  4. Damien Willey October 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    I doubt he’ll be sacked, Cameron doesn’t have the spine……how manytimes has he actually manned up and done so? Not often enough!!

  5. Thomas M October 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    If he said that about for example, blacks, Muslims or Jewish people, he would be thrown out at once.

  6. Ian Duncan October 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    One thing: “Then in February 2009, he joined the Conservative Party. That should have been a strong indicator to Labour that they had been harbouring a viper in their midst, and should have been all the reason needed to rip out his social security changes and put in something more humane. Alas, Labour missed the chance.”

    You think New Labour didn’t already know what Freud was? You think Blair et al didn’t ask Freud his views before they appointed him, or at least didn’t have a bloody good idea?

    As for the viper in the nest charge for moving to the Tory benches, a great many Labour MPs are barely distinguishable from Conservatives. Did you see that tit Tristram Hunt on Question Time agreeing with everything Michael Gove said yet desperately trying to appear otherwise?

    Can we face up to it here, Labour are almost as bad as the tories, they started this whole thing off to appear tough on ‘welfare’ and the friend of hardworkingfamilies (the use of both of these terms were introduced under the Labour government, by the way), they dmost surely id not give Lord Fraud the job without knowing where he’d go with it and hey are still, as Yvette Cooper has said on QT, going to clamp down on ‘welfare’

    We know he Tories are the moral dregs of society, the blue rosettes they wear come election time are aposematic, one f the ways you know someone is an unmitigated prick. We cannot pretend Labour’s hands are clean and show no signs of washing them, either.

    • Mike Sivier October 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Wouldn’t have been Blair by then but your point is well made. I’m not going to defend Tristram Hunt on any level at all, at the moment.
      That being said, I’m not going to agree with your claim comparing Labour with the Tories. Clamping down on welfare – in Labour parlance – does not mean clamping down on the people who are in receipt of it and anyone who thinks so has spent too long listening to Tories.
      A Labour clampdown on welfare means clamping down on the things that put people on benefits in the first place. Labour wants to make sure more people are able to get proper jobs and fewer people fall ill for preventable reasons – you know, things that would never occur to a Conservative, even if they happened to a relative.
      Labour’s hands aren’t clean – we have the New Labour period to blame for that – but it would be wrong to say that Labour is even close to the same as the Conservatives.

      • Ian Duncan October 15, 2014 at 7:04 pm - Reply

        “Clamping down on welfare – in Labour parlance – does not mean clamping down on the people who are in receipt of it and anyone who thinks so has spent too long listening to Tories.
        A Labour clampdown on welfare means clamping down on the things that put people on benefits in the first place. Labour wants to make sure more people are able to get proper jobs and fewer people fall ill for preventable reasons – you know, things that would never occur to a Conservative, even if they happened to a relative.”

        God, I hope you’re right but they don’t seem to say it enough. On one hand I can see why; we all know what the right wigh press and IBS would have to say – ‘party of welfare!’ yadda yadda yadda. On the other hand, it does seem cowardly and Ed M lets he Toris set the agenda way too much as it is; Labour are always discussing things on Tory terms. Maybe it’s Miliband himself just being useless, though the heir pparent, Yvette Cooper, is equally appalling for other reasons.

        I don’t expect to be as leftie as me but I do expect maybe a bit of the old left to return, even if heavily disguised.I just don’t see it.

  7. Lovejoy October 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    You know you’re in trouble when even Ester Mcvey isn’t on your side:

  8. Gazza October 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    May I suggest there is something else going on here as well?

    These fringe meetings are set ups at times. A person is pump-primed with a question, for which they can then answer in a particular way.

    I note that no one has said this cannot be extended [as Lord ‘Fraud’, and he typifies the Frauds in Westminister], to say women – “you there, you’re young enough to have children. Due to you might get pregmant – you only deserve the mimiumun wage minus 2 pounds.” Or, “you there you’re black so no wage for you, of fto the workhouse with you.”, Or, you there “you’re scottish….” you get the idea.

    When someone like this floats such bogas ideas is time to start looking out for it as official policy.

    Lord Fraud being Sacked? Can anyone tell me who in this Gov was last sacked [ cabinet reshuffles don’t count]?

  9. casalealex October 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Cameron: “I don’t need lectures from anyone about looking after disabled people, so I don’t want to hear any more on that”!

    Well, Davy Boy, the people don’t want lectures from Freud, Welfare Minister, (a misnomer if ever there was one), about cutting Mimimum Wage to the disabled.

    “I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”

    Too many in government make statements, which are put out there to ‘test the water’, and when a public uproar
    is the response, they ‘apologise’ and then go for the next insensitve and vexatious statement!

    Apology? Shamology!

  10. Jane H Jaques October 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    I think the sad thing is the difficulty a disabled person may have getting a job
    Disabilites may be severe but hidden, or very obvious, or anywhere inbetween. Discrimination still exists, and anyone who says it doesn’t is not in the real world. Many disabled people have degrees and postgraduate qualifications. It not all learning difficulities and physical difficulties. If people cannot do the job, even without reasonable adaptations then do not employ them. They are not fit to work in that particular job. Do not insult them by offering them a pittance to do the job. Would you work for a pittance at a job you couldn’t do? I wouldn’t. Disabled with BA(Hons) MSc CSc FIBMS and many years working in Blood Transfusion, Quality Management and Haematology. Got a disabled daughter unable to work. We are not cheap labour.

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