If the Conservatives are the “party of equality” why are disability claimants yet to receive the minimum wage?

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At the 2015 Conservative party conference, David Cameron set out “equality” and “social mobility” as two key issues on the agenda that need to be confronted. He spoke about the disgrace of a young black woman who had to put a more white-sounding name on her CV before she starting getting called for interviews. He made it clear that we cannot accept the fact that salary in Britain is more linked to what your father was paid than in any other country. Later that month, he wrote in the Guardian that “The Conservative party had become the party of equality”.

But, if conservative society is so equal, David, then why are disability claimants still receiving far less than the minimum wage? Cameron was right when he said it was a disgrace that a young black woman had to change her name on her CV. He was also right when he said that that someone’s income shouldn’t be linked to what their father earned. What I fail to understand, then, is why disability claimants should be condemned to poverty, simply because they were born or had become disabled. Equality is not blind to certain social groups who are unable to contribute towards the economy. This is not equality.

This centre-ground mantra,  might serve Cameron well in speeches, but what good is it if this isn’t reflected in policies or legislation?

The absolute maximum which someone on Disability Living Allowance is currently entitled to receive is a measly £559 a month. And that’s if they are entitled to the very top rate: they must need constant supervision or are terminally ill – as well as having  severe mobility issues. Yearly this would total at £6,709 – just over half of what someone working full-time on the minimum wage would earn, bringing home £13,124 a year.

Cameron’s insistence that the Conservative party has become the party of equality, comes after a comment earlier this year by Conservative Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, who apologised after suggesting that disabled people are “not worth” the national minimum wage, and some could be paid “£2 an hour”.

Photo: mrgarethm / Flickr

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