Turns out Compassionate Conservatism doesn't come so easy to the top dogs on the Government benches. This week, the One Nation government had to again be reminded by a Labour peer that some of the inhabitants of said one nation, are disabled and need caring for by their relatives. It took the Labour Party, Carers UK, and a judge in a costly legal battle, to remind them that punishing carers with the benefits cap is a bit of a slap in the face to people who give up everything to do he right thing. Whoopsie they said, and remembered they have to try and look nice.
Oh how it reminded us of when they brought in the Bedroom Tax. On that, their proudest moment, they forgot carers then too. They forgot soldiers serving away leave spare bedrooms, oh and parents who were divorced and only have kids at the weekend, and the disabled who need storage space for equipment. They forget a lot. Forgetful bunch - anyone might think they are divorced from reality.
No doubt, the man who would be king, George Osborne, will soon be featuring in a series of soft focus publicity shots in a meadow with his family showing what a great bloke he is. We will see him throwing a stick in a woodland to a golden retriever, telling us he's not just a numbers guy but a good guy. A wouldn't hurt a fly guy. Until that moment, turns out, for now, we are going to have to remind him to be nice.
While still playing the role of the numbers guy, in the small-print of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, he has snuck in a change that could devastate some of the most vulnerable people in the country. He wants to cut the rate of housing benefit paid to charities and organisations offering homes, refuge, shelter and other supportive accommodation. The victims will be women and children who have been beaten and raped, the frail and the elderly, people with disabilities, people picking themselves up after being homeless and people with severe and enduring mental health problems.
I worked in refuges for many years. All charity run, not for profit. Perhaps that's where we were going wrong - we should have cared about the profits if we wanted Gideon's approval. I know that without existing housing benefit rates, almost every one of the refuges I worked in would face closure. According to an Inside Housing survey, 95% of supported housing schemes like Refuge will have to shut some of their doors if the chancellors proposal goes ahead unchanged. Thousands of women and children left with no where to turn. How compassionately conservative of him to sneak this by.
Today I will stand in the commons, with my Labour colleagues and do our job of reminding the other side to be nice. I will tell the story of lives saved in Refuge and the lives lost without it. I will remind them that we don't all have a summer house in Cannes we can retreat to when hubby is being frightful. Nor can we just get a girl in to help if Mother can't get about anymore. Most of us don't have a private workforce to turn to when we are scared, or frail, ill or can't cope.
I will remind him, that we are the many, not the few. We wish he would stop forgetting us.
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