Freud row councillor rents accommodation to people with learning disabilities

Tunbridge Wells councillor David Scott.

Tunbridge Wells councillor David Scott.

This was originally on the Benefits and Work website but the comments by Unemployed in Tyne and Wear are illuminating.

The councillor at the centre of the row over David Freud’s comments about disabled people and the minimum wage owns a property in Tunbridge Wells, which he rents to people with learning disabilities via a charity. He receives housing benefit payments from the local authority.

At the Conservative party conference, Councillor David Scott told Lord Freud:

The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage, but want to work. And we have been trying to support them in work, but you can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage.

> You can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage to fully fit workers either – all those employers taking part in Workfare for example – the real something-for-nothing society : cheapskate employers.

“We had a young man who was keen to do gardening; now the only way we managed to get him to work was actually setting up a company for him, because as a director in a company we didn’t have to pay the minimum wage, we could actually give him the earnings from that.”

> In the wake of  dubious self-employment schemes, will this be the next scam to reduce the unemployment figures ?

Become the director of your own company ! Earn £2 an hour !

Councillor Scott, along with his partner, is the director of or has an interest in several limited companies. They also own several properties in Tunbridge Wells.

One of these properties is a house in Cadogan Gardens, known as Scott Properties, of which Councillor Scott is both the joint owner and landlord.

According to Zoopla, the average value of a property in Cadogan Gardens is over half a million pounds.

Rooms in the house are ‘Rented to disabled persons directly or through Pepenbury, a registered charity.’

According to their website, Pepenbury:

“. . . provides high quality care and support for adults with a learning disability and complex needs, some of the most vulnerable people in society. We give them choice and control over how they live their lives and believe that every individual has the right to live an independent and rewarding life, whilst feeling safe and supported.”

Councillor Scott told Benefits and Work that the young man he told David Freud about has never lived at Cadogan Gardens, has never worked at any property owned by Councillor Scott and has also not worked at any property connected with Pepenbury.

Councillor Scott has also talked to his local newspaper about the issue, saying:

If you have got some gardening work to be done you won’t pay someone for four hours when you could pay someone else for half an hour to do it. If you have a lawn in the garden and you employ a person who is doing it with support from somebody else there, you know you can employ them and it could cost you £10 to do it.

“If this person is going to take four hours to do that, would you be willing to pay £40? If you do not give them £40 you are not paying them minimum wage.”

When asked who the ‘we’ referred to in his discussion with Lord Freud was, Councillor Scott told us that it was:

“People working with my daughter when she was alive.

Benefits and Work also contacted Pepenbury for a statement about whether the young man was one of their service users, but we have not yet received a response.

14 thoughts on “Freud row councillor rents accommodation to people with learning disabilities

  1. Bill Kruse

    I’m not sure the young man on £2 an hour has his own company as such. I suspect the Councillor and or/chums set up a new business and made him a director Now there you may well have a suggestion of a way around the min wage rules, a nationwide company where many of the ‘directors’ were available to hire at a princely £2 per hour. Well, if said directors were indeed so damaged that no-one would be paying them the minimum wage then that might not be a bad idea if it truly helped them get something to potter around at in their days. Don’t forget their wages would be topped up by UC in theory. You’d need for there to be a lot of token work for them to be doing, though, and that could be a problem. You couldn’t have them doing real work, work that needed doing, as by definition they aren’t up to it. How much work, if that’s the right word for it, does the nation have?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Universal Credit doesn’t work, of course.
      And the rest of us aren’t trying to find a way around the minimum wage; it’s called the minimum for a reason.
      If a person is too disabled to receive the minimum wage for any work they do, then the logical conclusion is that they are too disabled to work. All this bluster about improving their self-esteem is just a smokescreen.

      1. Bill Kruse

        in most cases I’d agree but not in this case and not in others like it. The idea that some of the greatly mentally challenged feel isolated from the rest of the community and would genuinely feel improved self-esteem, as we tend to have it these days, were they to have what they could feel was a proper job with proper pay, albeit in reality token in both cases, rings true with me. We are wrong to dismiss the notion out of hand merely because of the (appropriate, I’d say) distaste we feel for the source. We’re also wrong, I’ll mention in passing, to do what so many are doing and simply making up quotes about the disabled and wrongly and irresponsibly attributing them to Freud.

      2. Florence

        I totally agree with your comment that if someone is unable to work for minimum wage, they are too disabled to work, and their right to be integrated into the fuller community, including the workplace. But there has to be a firm line drawn between these supported activities and fully remunerated work. The trouble is that we all know the slippery slope of the WCA and “everyone can do something” has become an evil tool of oppression for all disabled & chronically ill, including those with cancer. The DWP/WCA fail to recognise degrees or types of impairment. If you can move an empty box across a table, and pick up a pound coin, or watch a 30 minute TV programme you’re fit for full time work in the main economy. So it follows, knowing Frauds predilection for bashing all disabled, this is the opener to having all disabled being forced into work for a pittance, or face loosing all benefits.

        The only notion being dismissed out of hand by the apologists for Fraud is actual truth that the ill & disabled have been subjected to an across the board, 4 year attack on their health & welfare and their reduction to ciphers for scroungers and frauds.

      1. Mozart

        Me too! Personally, we are heading towards a country that is totally corrupted and the only people who will be looked after are those who have wealth. Well Cameron did say that he wanted transparency, I bet he is regretting that he said it now, because all it has done is shown the true colours of people in power.

    2. Jonathan Wilson

      UC will not by design “top up” their wages. UC will assume for calculations that anyone “self employed” is earning 35hr * Min wage in its calculations unless earnings are higher in which case the higher amount will be used.

      So UC will act as a deterrent to being “self employed” as benefits will stop, or be reduced, due to the way it works, should it ever work!

      Also HMRC will no doubt soon be telling people who have worked “self employed” that as their earnings were not sufficient they were in fact not self employed and as such will be asking for various “top ups” back with the added possibility of a criminal prosecution for fraud within the next 6-12 months (such is the glacial speed at which they work) for the group of people who became “self employed” in the last 12-24 months.

      1. Bill Kruse

        The first is an excellent point, one I’ve not seen made elsewhere. To facilitate this legally exceptions would have to be made all over the place, rendering the increasingly purely hypothetical UC even less ‘universal’ than it is now. I’d forgotten all about this proposed aspect of it.

      2. Gazza

        I saw last year that HMRC is already clamping down on that. Simply put, if the wages coming in are less than the minimum wage you’re in trouble… Oh, and no doubt DWP will jump in saying [despite themselves urging people down that path to lower the unemployment numbers] they are owed money as well. So you’ll have the threat of Jail, paying back benifits, being bullied by DWP all at the same tiime. Just how many classes of under class can there be? I think people will soon find out.

  2. lanzalaco

    Too disabled to receive the minimum wage can also translate into not able to compete with the common standards used to measure job performance. This does not mean not able to anything which is what they are getting at. E.g. Many people with fluctuating conditions have online businesses where they can start and stop as needed, close down temporarily as suits and catch-up later. In that situation supported by various schemes they are discussing here, they have something to do and may even succeed.. where as in the regular job market they would feel useless. So its better such options are developed and exist. The problem will be regulating the unscrupulous as those with such disabilities may be more sensitive, less able or fit to stand up for themselves etc.

  3. Michele Witchy Eve

    Perhaps someone should suggest to Freud that he might like to re-introduce Remploy, without any politically motivated additions.

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