CONTINUING the theme of care, compassion and cost, the significance of Amber Rudd’s speech on welfare – and, specifically, a desire for the long-term disabled to be treated more humanely – should not be overlooked in the continuing Cabinet power struggle over Brexit.
Having put – for now – a brake on the rolling out of Universal Credit, the Work and Pensions Secretary appears to be showing similar pragmatism over her department’s handling of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards – an issue highlighted by this newspaper only last month.
By drawing on the experience of her much- loved father who was blind for 36 years before passing away during the 2017 election, here is a more enlightened Minister, left chastened by the Windrush scandal, who does, at the very least, recognise the stress that annual checks can cause to those with permanent disabilities.
Moving forward, the challenge is making sure that they receive proper support – Ms Rudd said “disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most” – while handling other cases sensitively.
Yet, while it remains to be seen whether extra funding will be made available in next week’s Spring Statement, it is hoped that Ms Rudd can pursue her agenda without being ostracised by Theresa May, and others, for her desire, as a prominent Remain supporter, to oppose a no-deal Brexit at all costs.
Without some semblance of Cabinet unity, progress on Brexit – or neglected policy issues like social care and welfare reform – will remain frustratingly elusive.