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Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Job centre bans 'offensive' advert
Jobcentre
A jobcentre comes under fire for trying to 'protect the disabled'
Disabled charities and a government minister have criticised a job centre which banned an advert for a "hardworking and enthusiastic trainee" on the grounds it was discriminatory.

Businessmen Jason Pitt and Bill Wood were told by a job centre in Walsall, West Midlands they could not use the phrase because it could exclude disabled jobseekers.


They wanted to do the right thing but they got it wrong

Peter Mansell, disabled campaigner

Mr Pitt, 25, and Mr Wood, 51, described the ruling as political correctness gone mad.

Education and Employment secretary David Blunkett, who is blind, said the decision was nonsense and efforts had to be made to ensure it did not happen again.

Mr Wood, a sales director with Bloxwich-based publishing company Midlands Media, said he had to place a "censored" advert.

Not a joke

"When we tried to phone through the advert to the job centre we were stopped in our tracks after uttering the word `hardworking'," he said.

"They told us: `You can't put that - it's discrimination'."

"When we got to asking if we could put 'enthusiastic', she said we couldn't use that either."

Mr Wood said they were terms anyone would expect to use in a job advert.


Bill Wood (left) and Jason Pitt: "Political correctness gone mad"

He said: "At first we just sat around laughing at the stupidity of the situation.

"But then we thought it was not right and decided to try to do something about it."

Jonathan Stevenson, manager of the job centre, said he did not want to discriminate against the disabled.

"We have to make sure no discrimination takes place and that the words that are used treat people fairly," he told The Independent newspaper on Wednesday.

The Employment Service has a responsibility to ensure that adverts taken in jobcentres conformed to the Disability and Discrimination Act.

'Patronising'

But Mr Blunkett said the job centre's ruling had been nonsense.

"Unfortunately I haven't got the time to vet what happens in a thousand job centres across the country but what I can make clear is that wherever and whenever this nonsense happens we'll intervene to put it right," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"That is making sure that we have an enabling state, not a disabling one."

Disabled charities also criticised the job centre's decision.

"I think the Jobcentre are patronising, not in the wicked sense, but in the sense that they wanted to do the right thing but they got it wrong," said Peter Mansell, chief executive of the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (Radar.)

"I'm disabled and I think I am hardworking and enthusiastic," he said.

A spokesman for Scope said the decision was completely absurd.

He said: "There are very important circumstances where words reinforce tangible discrimination against disabled people, but it's completely absurd to suggest that disabled people are not hardworking," he said.

"Research has shown that disabled workers can be more productive than their able-bodied counterparts."

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