Mystery still surrounds the fate of the threatened cuts to the UK’s Personal Independence Payment paid to people with disabilities. including Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, blindness and mental illnesses.
Just look at the timetable:
March 11, Justin Tomlinson, Disabilities Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, officially announced plans to make changes, to make cuts, to Personal Independence Payment.
March 16, in his budget speech, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne gave details of the cuts the government was proposing.
Following the budget, and for a further two days, uproar ensued. Not just protests from those likely to be affected but from disability charities too. And the government, which has a majority of just 17, suddenly found itself facing almost certain defeat in the House of Commons when around 20 of its own MPs said they would oppose the move.
Back-peddling was the order of the day, publicly hinted at by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on BBC Question Time, when she said that the proposed cut was only ‘a suggestion’; with the Chancellor saying that he would look again to get things right.
March 18 saw Iain Duncan Smith resign as Work and Pensions Secretary, calling the planned cuts ‘a compromise too far’.
Prime Minister David Cameron, in his reply to Duncan Smith’s resignation letter, said “Today we agreed not to proceed with the policies in their current form and instead to work together to get these policies right over the coming months.”
Look at that closely, read it carefully. The Prime Minister did NOT say that those policies, the cuts, won’t happen. What he did say was that they would not go ahead in their ‘current form’ and that the policy would be got ‘right’ in the coming months.
Then, yesterday March 19, Stephen Crabb was promoted from being Welsh Secretary to take over at Work and Pensions. And, on his first day in his new post, he said the cuts to disability benefits will “not be going ahead.”
Well, actually, no he didn’t! Let’s look at it carefully.
These are the words that the new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb really said: “We’re not going to be going ahead with these cuts to disability benefits that were proposed on budget day.
“The prime minister has confirmed that himself. I was very clear when I discussed the offer of the job this morning we were not going to go ahead with the cuts that were proposed.”
Sounds good, right? Well, err, no. The key words in the first sentence are ‘that were proposed on budget day’. Similarly, two sentences later the telling words are ‘that were proposed’.
Now, call me a cynic if you like but I have worked as a journalist, spent time in public relations and been around politicians long enough to recognise this for what it is – the use of prepared phrases, or callous weasel words, designed to trick us into thinking the cuts won’t happen.
The government is just trying to buy time to find a way to get them through in another form and without rebellion from within their own MPs.
Trust me, despite what we are being led to believe, the cuts are still very much on the table.