One faint cheer for Damian

Chronically sick benefit claimants will no longer be required to prove they are ill every six months.

Read that carefully to remind yourself just what a grim nation we have become under the Coalition and Conservative governments. Was there really a time, we hope future generations will ask, when terminally ill people had to abase themselves before suspicious assessors twice a year in order to prove that they deserved financial support?

But then do give a faint cheer to Damian Green, the work and pensions secretary, who’s announced the change. True, he’s described it as ‘common sense’ in order not to point to George Osborne’s callousness, and he’s not applied the same decency to other claimants because, he says, work is good for them – as if, as he’d like us to believe, most of them would rather be without.

But it’s a small step in the right direction. Couple it with the news that the government is launching a review of workers’ rights and practices – we hope to improve rather than to trash them – and it’s just possible that the drip-drip of protest from the Corbyn camp and other campaigners is having some effect.

Only one cheer for Damian and his friends, though, because there’s still a very long way to go. Here are three other items from today’s news:

– The number of UK children living in poverty soared by 250,000 in a single year under the Conservatives

– More than 16 million of the working age population have less than £100 in the bank

– Thousands of poorer pensioners are to be hit by a new bedroom tax because their homes will be declared ‘under-occupied’

We live in one of the richest countries in the world, but behave as if we’re broke.

 

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