Business Secretary Vince Cable backed down on Wednesday after strong protests from Jewish leaders, angry at his proposal to cut a compensation scheme for Holocaust survivors.
The senior Liberal Democrat leader reversed course after “strong views” were expressed, following his review of a 15-year scheme to compensate victims and their families who had property confiscated by the Nazis.
“Whilst it is a fact that the number of claims has fallen significantly in recent years, the closure of this scheme would be premature,” said Board of Deputies President Vivian Wineman.
“It would be unjust if descendants of survivors were denied their right to claim due to a question of relative value for money for the taxpayer.”
While there were hundreds of claims made in the first few years of the scheme, there have only been 37 claims made in the past five years, prompting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to review its continued relevance.
But Cable said he had decided to rule out the closure of the scheme, which costs £65,000 per year to administer, after acknowledging “strong views expressed so far on this matter”.
A spokesman added: “The last thing we want to do is offend those who have suffered in the Holocaust.”
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”