Imagine being a parent of young children, then finding out not only that you are terminally ill – but that a law change introduced by the Tories a year ago is going to take £100,000 of vital support from your bereaved family.
Last March, the Tories forced through the “Bereavement Support Payment Regulations 2017“, which came into force early the following month. The new regulations overturned around seven decades of support for bereaved families lasting until the last child reached adulthood.
In its stead is now a support package lasting a mere eighteen months.
The BBC calculated that families are losing as much as £100,000 under the new legislation, compared to the old system:
Some charities put the potential loss even higher.
The devastating – ‘callous and savage – impact of this brutal change was conveyed heartbreakingly last year by Alan, a dying man facing the prospect of huge financial loss to his family because he was likely to die just after the new rules came into force:
The change was widely condemned, including by the recently-widowed footballer Rio Ferdinand.
Tories have set new standards of cowardice and callousness in the year since the new rules were imposed, often failing even to contest votes they fear they might lose – and with ministers refusing to appear in the Commons to face difficult questions from MPs after those votes have been lost.
But little could better exemplify the heartlessness, arrogance and sheer lack of moral fibre of the Tory government than the fact that, in the year since the new support limits came into force, not one Tory MP was prepared to appear on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show to defend the policy, in spite of literally hundreds of requests.
As Anna Collinson, one of the Derbyshire team and the author of the above BBC article, pointed out recently on Twitter:
At last, a couple of weeks ago one Tory MP did agree to appear:
That MP was Thirsk, Malton and Filey’s Kevin Hollinrake – whose Twitter profile claims that he loves, among other things, ‘family life’:
Mr Hollinrake was scheduled to appear on the show this morning.
However, it seems that Mr Hollinrake’s love of family life wasn’t enough to compel him to appear to defend legislation that makes family life far harder than it already will be for any family that loses a parent – because yesterday evening Ms Collinson was forced to issue a further Twitter announcement:
Ms Collinson and her colleagues – as well as Labour MPs – do not intend to let the matter rest, but it remains to be seen whether the Tories can be shamed into an appearance and based on their attitude so far it doesn’t look hopeful.
But it can – and must – inspire a public outrage that will not accept a refusal, nor the continuance of the ‘savage’ policy.
The government has been mired in a huge scandal over its heartless, racist treatment of Windrush-generation citizens, who have been subjected to huge distress and even wrongful deportation – and the Tories have avoided, blamed and shamelessly lied to try to weather the storm of public outrage.
But their continuing cowardice and arrogance over the ‘Bereavement Support Payment Regulations’ portrays even more starkly the fundamental inhumanity of a government for whom the term ‘nasty party’ seems grossly inadequate.
Taking vital support away from a bereaved husband or wife and grieving children is a disgrace – but the Tories cowardly refusal to even appear to defend their actions makes it unspeakably, intolerably vile.
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