A CONSERVATIVE MP hopeful has apologised in a row over disabled people being paid less than the minimum wage because “they don’t understand money”.

Hastings candidate Sally-Ann Hart sparked anger at a hustings when she defended an article she had shared on Facebook suggesting people with learning disabilities could be paid less to work.

“They should be given the opportunity to work because it’s to do with the happiness they have about working,” she said on Thursday night.

“Some people with learning disabilities, they don’t understand money.

“It’s about the happiness to work.”

Angry members of the audience shouted “they deserve a salary” and “how patronising, how dare you”.

Another said: “I’m autistic, and I want to get paid for the work I do.”

The article defended by Ms Hart was a Spectator opinion piece written by Rosa Monckton, whose daughter Domenica has Down’s syndrome. Ms Monckton founded Brighton-based Team Domenica to provide employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

In the article, she said people with learning disabilities “should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage”.

In a statement on Facebook, Tory candidate Ms Hart apologised for offence but claimed she “did not say anyone should be paid less.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I was trying to emphasise that more needs to be done to help those with learning disabilities into the workplace and having properly paid work,” she said.

“I did not say anyone should be paid less.

“My comments have been taken out of context, but I do apologise if any offence or alarm has been caused.

“The number of disabled people in work has hit a record high under this Government, and I am committed to doing more to supporting those with learning disabilities into good, secure jobs.”