Monday, 21 February 2011

Covert climbdown over plans to axe mobility component of Disability Living Allowance

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).