David Cameron actually made three policy concessions this week. At this rate, he may as well install a revolving door at No 10. It’s another Lib Dem victory of sorts, but they’re not really crowing about it. Buried in the documentation for the Universal Credit is a softening of the plan to cut payments for disabled people in care homes.
The spending review proposal to axe the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, thereby saving around £130m, upset a lot of charities and many a Lib Dem. Cameron has now endorsed a discreet climbdown. The measure will be delayed by a year, so it only begins to be implemented in 2013. And there will be a review of how the principle is applied - which will effectively mean that it will affect a smaller group of people.
Cameron hinted at all this in PMQs. I suspect anyone who has spent the whole of their lives in a state care home will be able to carry on claiming the benefit. This may not be enough for the charities, but it is certainly a concession. The Treasury, meanwhile, are making clear that any minister performing a U-turn should not expect fresh money to cover the budget shortfall.
It will be interesting to see what needs to be done to compensate for this week’s about-turns on docking housing benefit for the long-term unemployed (£100m a year), the cancellation of the woodland sell-off (up to £350m), and the disability payments (up to £130m a year).