The Big Question

Is there ever an excuse for paying less than the minimum wage to people with learning difficulties?

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
I can see a case to be made out for slightly lower than the minimum wage for people with learning difficulties – maybe the job would otherwise not exist or there may be extra costs in terms of training or special facilities. It is important that there is no exploitation or indignity but, where circumstances dictate, a lower rate is fair.

Eve Rank – Inspired Services
I am shocked that people with learning difficulties are still paid less than the minimum wage. Valuing People should have stopped this ages ago. I remember places that paid just 50p a day. Many people with learning difficulties do not realise it is slave labour, thinking it is good to have pocket money but not realising that they are being taken for granted.

Angie Lawrence – Single mother
There is either a need to employ someone or not, and if they are able to do the job, then pay them the relevant salary. Job share or part-time employment may be a more effective solution. This may mean a low value role, but that’s better than just sitting at home. Are we setting up a distorted model for 21st century charity?

Jaya Kathrecha – Carer
People with learning difficulties find themselves doing a lot of work for less than minimum pay. It is an abuse of their rights, it is exploitation. It happens in mental health too – people might be given menial tasks, but if they didn’t do them, someone else would have to. If people are treated as second class citizens, how will they ever feel empowered?

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