Incredibly, for a show featuring such intellectual heavyweights as Katie Price and Calum Best, the current series of Celebrity #Big Brother
has sparked a genuinely important debate regarding wider society.
More specifically, the debate centres around entitlement to disability benefits, with Price admitting that her disabled son, Harvey, receives taxpayer-funded assistance. This includes transport to and from school, complete with supervision from a nurse capable of providing emergency injections.
On the show, when asked whether she could fund the assistance herself instead, Price said no, estimating that it would cost her around £1,000 per day. Almost immediately, angry viewers took to social media sites to ask: 'Why should taxpayers fund such expensive care?' - especially when his mother has an estimated net worth of £40 million.
Some even called for Prime Minister, David Cameron, to take action. Of course, those people were missing one important fact - Cameron, a very wealthy man himself, used to claim disability living allowance for his disabled son too.
The outrage speaks volumes about the current climate in the United Kingdom, where the welfare state is no longer viewed as a basic right of citizenship, where the altruistic nature of the welfare state is being eroded, and where anyone claiming any form of assistance from the government is treated with suspicion.
In reality, regardless of her personal wealth, Price is right to claim the support for her son, because it is her son's right as a disabled person living in Britain.
As a society, we decided long ago that disabled people should be looked after. Yes, caring for them can be expensive, but disabled people did not choose to be disabled and we, as a society, owe them a duty of care. It is, therefore, their basic right to claim state support if they need help during their day-to-day lives.
The fundamental principle of the welfare state is that we each contribute what we can, whether that be through income tax (which, by the way, Katie Price pays at a higher rate than most) or through paying VAT on the things we purchase. And, as a result of doing so, we are entitled to take out what we need.
Harvey Price is blind and has a number of other serious health problems. As a result, he NEEDS to attend a special school. In order to get there, he NEEDS transport. Due to his complex health problems, that travel NEEDS to be supervised by someone with suitable training.
The question of whether or not Katie Price could pay for this need herself is irrelevant. We decided when we established the welfare state that she shouldn't have to. Just like David Cameron didn't have to when it was his son needed extra help.
Society needs to think very carefully before it begins to categorise genuinely disabled people into groups of being "deserving" and "undeserving" of government-funded support, based on their lifestyle, or the lifestyle of their parents. Doing so essentially turns disabled people's basic entitlement to financial assistance into something which can be challenged and debated. In the long run, the victims of such a judgemental system will not be the Katie and Harvey Prices of this world, but those far less well off. #Television