It would seem that the government are finally willing to step down over plans to remove mobility payments for adults in residential care.
Expect fanfares and trumpets in the next few days. Expect to hear that this is a government who “listens,” who does the right thing. A government who cares for the most vulnerable.
A cynic, however, might point out that a government who even considers taking this most basic freedom away from some of the most profoundly disabled is badly out of touch with the needs of disabled people. Suggesting that disabled people should be kept housebound and unable to access society is so very disgusting that one would hope they would see that it was impossible. After all, I don’t reward my children for not kicking puppies.
If one were even more cynical, one might conclude that this measure, which was only ever set to save a paltry 160 million per year, was only included in the bill in the first place to be dropped in a warm glow of benevolence.
One might conclude that it was a measure so outrageous, so cruel, that it was always designed to draw attention away from other element of the Welfare Reform Bill that were even more cruel, but much, much harder to explain to a wider public.
Such cynicism might lead us to conclude that Time Limiting Contributory ESA, which affects 700 thousand people and saves the government up to 5 billion over the term of the parliament is a much greater prize and that by giving ground over a miniscule 160 million, critics will be silenced.
The benefit cap, which is predicted to make up to 200,000 people homeless, the plans to cut housing benefit for some of the most vulnerable, cuts to childcare and child benefit – all of these measures save the government much, much more money.
So, when the Daily Mail and the DWP start gushing with paternalistic largesse, when they jubilantly proclaim their disabled-friendly credentials, let’s be glad. But let’s not, for one moment allow them to claim that they listened.