Most people reject the idea that different levels of minimum wage should be paid to different groups, including people with and without disabilities
Welfare minister Lord Freud has stirred cross-party outrage with comments suggesting that people with disabilities may not be “worth” the full minimum wage. On Wednesday the Conservative peer apologised, calling the remarks “foolish and stupid”.
YouGov’s latest polling for the Times Red Box delves into the question of whether the same minimum wage ought to apply to different groups, and finds few voters prepared to pay any of them at different levels.
In the case of people with disabilities, four in five (79%) reject the idea of setting a different minimum wage to people without them, while only 12% support it. Similarly, 80% are against and 12% in favour of paying people above and below the retirement age differently, and voters are almost uniformly opposed to varying the minimum wage according to gender (91-3%).
There is little variation in the opinions of Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP voters on these three groups.
Around three in ten do think it is appropriate to pay people above and below the age of 21 or people living in areas with higher and lower living costs at different levels, but twice as many think it shouldn’t be done even for these groups.
Currently the minimum wage is £6.50 per hour.
Lord Freud’s comments were made at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference. He had been addressing the question posed by a Conservative councillor of how to deal with cases of people with disabilities who want to work, but “can’t find people who are willing to pay [them] the minimum wage.”