Letter to WILG recipients from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM #SaveWILG

All WILG recipients – and their families – should be alerted to the following letter, which explains what happens next in the WILG transition process. This is particularly important for those of us who are unhappy with the level of support we’re receiving from local authorities. I am happy that we have made further progress, but now is not the time to celebrate. We have to make sure that local authorities implement the instructions that they have received from the Welsh Government.

An official response from the #SaveWILG Campaign to this letter will follow after the Easter break.

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To: All former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) – Update

As we reach the end of the two years where people who used to receive payments from the WILG have been transferring to local council support, I would like to share an important update with you.

Since 2017 local councils have met nearly all people who used to receive WILG payments and agreed with them what care and support they will receive in future to help them live independently. Some people will now be having all their support arranged by their local council and others will be receiving direct payments so they can purchase this support themselves.

For the vast majority of people their new care and support is similar to what they had using their WILG payments. In some cases it has increased, to support their ability to live independently.

For a small number of people, the new package of care and support is smaller than what they had previously received through WILG. This can be for a range of good reasons, for example where people’s needs are still being met but just in a different way. We know from our enquiries that many people are content with the new support they are receiving, even when that package of care is smaller than before.

However, some people disagree with the outcome of their local council’s assessment. Everyone in Wales deserves support to live independently. As a result I have concluded that people who used to receive the WILG and now disagree with their council’s assessment of their care needs should have the option of having their needs looked at again by an independent person.

If you agree with the package of care and support from your local council, then this update does not affect you and you do not need to respond in any way.

However, if you disagree with the outcome of your new care arrangement, please contact your local council to ask for an independent assessment. Or if you have not started or completed your assessment yet, and would prefer for this to be done independently rather than by your local council, please also let your local council know about that. In either case, if you would like an independent assessment please let your council know by Friday 14 June 2019, at the latest. Your current care will remain unchanged until after the independent assessment has been completed.

The Welsh Government will be paying for these independent assessments and meeting the cost of any additional care and support a person might need as a result of them. Because of this, for people who used to receive WILG, while care arrangements may change in order to better meet people’s needs, this should not be in order to make any savings.

I do not want people to be waiting for an independent assessment. However, it is important to organise these independent assessments properly, so that they meet the required standards. We plan to have the arrangements for the independent assessments in place by the end of June so as to begin these from July onwards. Your patience, therefore, will be appreciated, while the details are worked out.

Julie Morgan AC/AM
Y Dirprwy Weinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

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Direct Payments Guide Issued by Social Care Wales

Many thanks to Rosemary Burslem for drawing my attention to the following guide to Direct Payments, which has been published by Social Care Wales. It can be read in full by clicking here. 

This is a very illuminating guide, which clearly shows that Direct Payments can be used for other things as well as support from personal assistants.

“Myth 3 Direct payments are only for employing PAs

The great thing about direct payments is the opportunity to be creative. Employing a PA is one of many options to meet an individual’s personal well-being outcomes. For example, direct payments can be used to buy equipment, pay for activities to reduce loneliness, isolation or to develop confidence or gym membership or transport to access community facilities.”

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The Dewis website- see: https://www.dewis.wales/using-direct-payments says:

“Social activities

You can spend your money on social activities, evening classes and even holidays if they are in your care plan. Direct payments can also help if you want to do paid work or a training course.

Equipment and minor home adaptations

If you need special equipment or minor home adaptations an amount to cover these things might be included in your direct payments.

Special equipment might include computers, mobility aids, safety devices, transfer aids and assistive technology.”

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It is clear that Direct Payments are intended to improve choice, control and independence for people. This is further evidence of the appalling practices of Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC), who have done everything in their power to discourage DP recipients from spending their money on things that they are clearly entitled to. I believe that WCBC view that DP’s can only be used to pay for support is not in line with the ethos of the law on Direct Payments. When drawing up Care Plans with people who have chosen to have DPs Social Workers and clients should be allowed to be creative in how this funding is spent, as in the examples above.

Those of us who do receive Direct Payments throughout Wales should read the article provided by Social Care Wales, and remember that we are in control of the money we receive and as long as it is spent responsibly and appropriately, then there is little that Local Authorities can object to.

Breaking News – Update from Facebook – Disability is not good for Facebook says: ‘Facebook’.

This is most concerning and deeply troubling.

My first thought was to boycott Facebook and close my personal pages. On further thought I have decided that it is more productive for me to continue my activism on disability rights through Facebook and hope that I can change perceptions of disability.

Ability Access

By Simon Sansome

In an astonishing recorded call from Facebook, listen below.

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Ability Access is the UK’s largest disability page with over 12,000 followers and often goes viral. This week is no exception, with reaching an audience of over 5 million people and 1.5 million interactions.

Earlier this week, Ability Access, was blocked from inviting people to like the page after getting over 3000 new likes.

Scheduling a call with Facebook Marketing Team to resolve this issue, we asked why we had been blocked and their reply is shocking and possibly discriminatory.

In a recorded conversation the operator who is a marketing expert at Facebook said: “You will have to understand that some people see disability as disturbing, you will have to think about it like that”.

The operator then went on to say “I have never come across a page that promotes disability”.

Simon – “So, to promote my…

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Meet the new disability minister, same as the old disability minister

Politics and Insights

Official_portrait_of_Justin_Tomlinson_crop_2Justin Tomlinson MP (pictured above) has been appointed as the new disabilities minister following the resignation of Sarah Newton MP last month over Brexit. 

Tomlinson is the Conservative MP for North Swindon and is a former member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, a cross-party group of MPs charged with scrutinising government welfare policy.

He was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People following the 2015 general election victory of the Conservative Party, serving until Theresa May reshuffled the government in 2016.

In May 2015, it was reported by The Huffington Post that his appointment as Minister for Disabled People was controversial as he had previously voted against protecting the benefits of disabled children and those undergoing cancer treatment.

He was a minister that defended George Osborne’s budget cuts to disabled people’s support, which was aimed at saving £1.3bn and contributing to an economic surplus. 

However, there…

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“Gimme Shelter” – #SaveWILG Version

What my #SaveWILG campaign is in need of right now is an updated theme tune. At the moment, WILG recipients find themselves in a state of limbo without any clear direction on the way forward. Local authorities are of little support and the onus seems to be upon the Welsh Government to push through their new policy – that will replace the Welsh Independent Living Grant – ASAP.

I have received several encouraging emails from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services and the civil servants who are responsible for creating a new policy from scratch. I am confident that the work is going on behind the scenes, but it is really frustrating that there has been little progress since the Welsh Government announced that they were listening and protecting WILG recipients, back in February.

Leanne Wood AM has been calling on the Welsh Government to publish a timetable for the WILG transition process. she asked the Welsh Government, when the warm words of support they have given will be matched by deeds?

It would help a number of us who are really struggling at the moment to have an opportunity to plan for the future. I have spent the last two Christmas periods chained to my laptop and unable to join in with family celebrations due to the pressures of this campaign. Will I have to spend a third Christmas in such a way?

I hit upon the idea for this blog while watching the Rolling Stones Story at Glyndwr University on Friday night. This was a really good gig and an excellent tribute act to the ageing rock band. All of the hits were played in familiar fashion with an energetic “Mick Jagger” giving an excellent performance which married supreme confidence with a camp as Christmas performance. One of the many highlights of the show was the performance of the classic Stones hit Gimme Shelter.

Without permission, I have took it upon myself to change the words to this popular hit, in order to make it fit with the campaign. Anyway, see for yourself with the video of the Rolling Stones posted below the lyrics, so you have no excuse not to sing along. I have also added a few paragraphs from Wikipedia about the Rolling Stones. I do hope there are no copyright issues over the use of this tune as I am giving the writers full credit and not claiming any credit for myself.

I hope you like my new version.

“Gimme Shelter”

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Hope, comrade, it’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
Hope, comrade, it’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away

Ooh, see the clock is tickin’
On our rights today

Fighting for our futures
We will not fade away

Hope, comrade it’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
Hope, comrade, it’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away

Peace, freedom!
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
Peace, freedom!
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
Peace, freedom!
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away

The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away

Hope, comrade, it’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away
It’s just a WILG away

I tell you death, comrade, it’s just a tick away
It’s just a tick away
It’s just a tick away
It’s just a tick away
It’s just a tick away
Tick away, tick away

Gimme Shelter” is the opening track to the 1969 album Let It Bleed by the Rolling StonesGreil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, praised the song, stating that the band has “never done anything better”.

Although the first word was spelled “Gimmie” on that album, subsequent recordings by the band and other musicians have made “Gimme” the customary spelling.

The recording features Richards playing in an open tuning on electric guitar. The recording also features vocals by Merry Clayton

 

Neil Dobie RIP: Tribute Planned

I was recently sad to learn of the tragic passing of Neil Dobie who was a valued and committed member of the Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association.

It is only because of the DSA that I continue to attend the Racecourse on a regular basis and Neil was a committee member who always had time for those he encountered on a match day.

He actually worked as a Personal Assistant when he was in the country – he had a house in France where he would spend part of the year – and I was always eager to secure his services. Unfortunately, this never happened for a number of reasons, but the fact that I would have welcomed him onto my small team of staff shows how highly I thought of him.

This morning, the DSA  published a small note about the sad news and are proposing a minutes round of applause after 49 minutes of Saturday’s home game against Braintree.

I hope everyone will join in this tribute and show that Wrexham is a community club to be proud of – no matter what happens on the pitch.

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Following the loss of our dear friend, committee member, and match day volunteer Neil Dobie at the young age of 49 recently.

With the families blessing, we at Wrexham DSA would be extremely grateful if all Wrexham fans attending this Saturday’s home game v Braintree 6th April, would join us for a minutes applause starting on 49 minutes played shortly after the second half is underway in his loving memory.

For those who may not recognise the name, you may know the face. Neil is pictured here on car park duty (back left in the bobble hat) in what may have been the last time he was with us before heading back to his home in France.

We are still coming to terms with the tragic news and this would mean so much to us all.

Thank you x

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Statement on the Welsh Independent Living Grant transition

Following the Welsh Government’s announcement on February 12th that they were pausing the WILG transition and allowing all WILG recipients to recruit an independent social worker to work alongside clueless local authorities, there has been little obvious progress.

There is much going on behind the scenes as the Welsh Government work around the clock to establish a new policy.  I have received several encouraging and reassuring emails from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services as well as the civil servants who are working flat out to assist disabled people with high support needs and their families.

Of course, it is going to take time to implement the new system.  This is something that many of us cannot afford, but now is not the time to be critical of the Welsh Government – who have listened and are making the appropriate changes.

WILG recipients should all be receiving a letter from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan to explain the next steps in the reassessment process.  Let us hope that we receive this letter sooner rather than later as many of us are continuing to struggle.  We have won a huge battle, but there is little reason to celebrate at the moment and we have to remain patient while continuing to struggle for a few more weeks or months.

This is precious time we are wasting, but we cannot forget the huge strides we have made and have faith that the Welsh Government are doing what they can to help transform our lives under 21st Century Socialism.

We are so close to our goal and we must make sure such mistakes are never allowed to happen again…