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Tory disability minister, Maria Miller has defended the government’s decision to cut benefits to parents of disabled children by claiming there’s no job shortage but a lack of skills and a “fear” of work by children with disabilities.

Ms Miller insisted there were plenty of jobs available for disabled infants, blaming unemployment on the children’s unwillingness to apply for the work available.

Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people in the Department for Work and Pensions, said she believed the unemployment problem was down to a lack of “appetite” by toddlers for the jobs on offer.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Ms Miller said:

If you actually look at the facts and the figures, there’s 400,000 jobs at any one point in job centres, any one of which could be done by a child in a wheelchair. There isn’t a shortage of jobs for disabled children, what there can be is a lack of an appetite for some of jobs that are available for nippers, such as going up chimneys and working in factories. So we’ve got to make sure Britain’s disabled children have got the right skills, such as polishing shoes and scrubbing fireplaces.

Her comments on Sunday night are likely to provoke anger among those desperately seeking work with little success. The latest official count of unemployed people stands at 2.68 million, while the number of new workers being sought by employers in the last quarter of 2011 was 463,000. This is equivalent to about six people for every vacancy in the country.

Ms Miller, however, was undeterred by the actual facts and continued:

Every family with a disabled child should be a family with a working disabled child. I think it’s not so much a problem of work-shy infants as a problem of minors not having the right skills. This is also a matter of pride. I’m sure parents of disabled children who are poor would be much happier sending their children up a chimney for 12 hours a day from the age of 4, instead of claiming benefits.

A Labour spokesperson blasted Ms Miller’s comments on sending disabled children out to work as “not very nice” and “rather out of touch”.

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