Let me give you some facts and figures:
It could cost £7 billion over 40 years to repair the crumbling houses of parliament.
The Crown Estate is now worth £11.5 billion and it will cost £150 million to repair Buckingham Palace.
The Trident replacement could cost as much as £37 billion
The Independent Living Fund, which costs £320 million a year supports more than 21,000 people with severe disabilities. It pays out an average of £300 a week, to help people pay for carers so they can live at home and not in a care home.
Have a guess which one the government thinks we can most do without?
Today, a group of protesters stormed the Houses of Parliament to protest at this, one of the most cruel cuts ever, even by this government’s standards. I do not condone any acts of violence but neither do I condone the actions of this spiteful government. I was amazed to see people with severe disabilities protesting outside. Whilst they were, it seems, accompanied by the usual rent-a-mob protesters, let this not detract from the most important part of the narrative: this is a taster of what is to come from the attack dogs of the Tory party.
Lord Morris, who was the first minister for the disabled, said back in 2010 when the proposal was first announced: “This will not save money. If you make it harder for disabled people to live at home, it will cost more because more of them will have to be in hospitals and other places of full-time care. It will mean far more of them having to be in institutional care at far greater cost to the taxpayer.”
Exactly. As ever with Cameron and Osborne, they merely look for the cost saving at the outset and ignore the potential consequences in terms of future costs. It’s the politics of the quick fix.
It is all very well for the science minister, George Freeman, to condemn the protesters, accusing them of letting down their cause with “violence and public disorder” but what is left for them to do? As with everything else in this country, once politicians are elected they feel they can do whatever they like, regardless of any mandate or manifesto promise. I’ll bet if you asked the average person in the street whether they thought it was right to pull the plug on support for extremely vulnerable people, they would be appalled.
Dennis Skinner said: “It’s outrageous to say that in order to cut the deficit we should be bringing despair on the disabled and robbing children.” And he defended the decision by protesters to attempt to enter the Commons chamber. “That’s what the Bullingdon boys did, except they were using fire extinguishers in hotel foyers. This was more practical. It was about real life.”
Although the scrapping of the ILF was done five years ago with the so called moderating hand of the Liberal Democrats by the side of the Tories, it’s an illustration of what is to come. Next will be an attack on the working poor which may go so far as to scrap working tax credits altogether, as well as to tax disability and carer benefits. What sort of country tries to balance the books by kicking the ladder away from those at the bottom?
As we have said before, all the unpleasant stuff is about to be announced by the government, much of which will be within days of the summer recess. At a time when child poverty is now on the rise again, we are headed into dangerous times. Did people really think this would happen if Cameron and co were elected to office in a majority Tory government? I did, and I said so. You can’t blame me.