The results are in
for my first ever Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, which I filed late last year with the UK’s Treasury. As readers of ITK will remember, the subject was recent comments made by the UK’s finance minister Philip Hammond.
Talking to the Treasury select committee, the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to make a link between the British economy’s low productivity problem and an increase in the number of disabled people entering the workforce. A link that I suspected was entirely baseless.
And guess what? The UK government agrees with me.
Here’s the key passage of the FOI response, as brilliantly reported
by Business Insider UK founding editor Jim Edwards:
“There is no evidence of a relationship between aggregate productivity measures and an increase in workforce participation of people with disabilities. It has however helped to increase economic growth and it is something we can be very proud of as a country.”
The Treasury also audaciously claims that the Chancellor never implied the link, either (he did, see: ITK #37
on what he said and why it matters). It states: “The Chancellor was not suggesting — and does not believe — that increased participation by people with disabilities has had any negative impact on the economy.”
So, no link between higher rates of employment of disabled people and low productivity in the UK economy.
But what about high levels of employment more generally? Edwards’ report also seems to dispel that myth, too, citing the IFS. It is well worth a read
, and thanks Jim for a decent bit of journalism.
Talking of which, the journalism standards of flack-turned-hack Christian May
, the Editor of London regional newspaper City A.M., appear to have fallen short last month when he used his column to suggest that, whilst Philip Hammond’s remarks caused unnecessary offence, he was in fact correct.
: “Hammond was at it again recently, when he said that the UK’s low productivity score may be down to an increase of disabled people in the workplace. Ouch. We winced. Not because he’s wrong, but because it’s not kind to point it out.”
Thanks to my FOI and BI’s follow up reporting, we now know that the Chancellor wasn’t just unkind but factually wrong. Perhaps the ex-flack and City A.M. editor should work harder
on getting his facts correct in future, too.