Plaid Cymru Press Release #SaveWILG

Written Statement by the Welsh Government #SaveWILG

The following statement has been issued by the Welsh Government, regarding the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

***

TITLE Welsh Independent Living Grant – Update

DATE 23 May 2018

BY Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care

As the first year of the two year Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) transition period has just ended, I thought it would be an opportune time to update Members on progress.

The Welsh Government is committed to independent living so that disabled people, wherever they live in Wales, are appropriately supported to achieve their wellbeing outcomes within their communities. As a result the majority of disabled people are supported to do this by their local authority who, under our social services legislation, have a legal duty to help them achieve their wellbeing outcomes. This will include their desire to live as independently as possible. Local authorities are funded in part to do this through the Revenue Support Grant we provide to local government.

This has been the case since 2010 when the UK Government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to new applicants. Consequently, disabled people were no longer able to receive payments from the ILF to help with the cost of independent living in addition to receiving separate support from their local authority, which was a condition of receiving ILF payments. As a result a two tier system was created where some disabled people in Wales were still being able to access both avenues of support, while the majority of disabled people could now only receive this from their local authority.

In 2015 the UK Government closed the ILF altogether believing disabled people’s needs were best met locally by support provided by their local authority and as a result, in England the responsibility for providing this transferred to local authorities. In Wales, responsibility was transferred to the Welsh Government, with fixed funding of £27 million a year. There were around 1,600 people in Wales in receipt of payments from the ILF at that time. This compares with the 60,000 or so who now receive community based care and support from their local authority.

There was clearly a need at this time to make sure people in Wales who had received payments from the ILF were not left without support as a consequence of this decision. In response the Welsh Government introduced, as an interim measure, the WILG for local authorities. This was to provide the funding authorities would need to make payments uninterrupted to people who had been in receipt of ILF payments whilst we considered the most appropriate way to support this discreet group in future.

Prior to this a public consultation was held in 2014 on the principle of four alternative options to provide future support to this group. This was followed by detailed consideration by an ILF stakeholder advisory group of the viability of implementing a refined set of options based on the comments received. This stakeholder advisory group included organisations which represent disabled people in Wales, including Disability Wales and the All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers of People with Learning Disabilities.

I understand that on balance the stakeholder advisory group recommended providing future support through local authorities so that all disabled people in Wales, both those who were able to receive ILF payments and those who were not, were provided with support in an equal, consistent manner. It was also to ensure the fixed funding transferred from the UK Government was used to maximum effect by being used directly for that purpose and not on the administration costs of separate arrangements for those who used to receive payments from the ILF. The Minister at the time, Rebecca Evans AM, confirmed this in her Written Statement of 3 November 2016.

Unlike in England, where the responsibility for support was passed immediately to local authorities without guidance, we have been careful to undertake this in a managed approach. As a result we introduced in April last year a two year transition period during which local authorities will agree with people who used to receive ILF payments the wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve, how they will be delivered and what support they require. This can be by received direct from their local authority, or direct payments can be made by the authority to enable people to arrange support themselves. We have provided local authorities with clear guidance on how to undertake this process, stressing the need for this to be done in partnership with people who need care and support.

In the second year of this period people have been transferring over to receive their future support from their authority, with the WILG ceasing in March this year and the full funding of £27 million a year transferring into the RSG from this financial year onwards to enable authorities to provide that support. Since the start of the transition period we have carefully monitored local authorities’ performance and will continue to do so throughout. The latest data, which covers the first year of this period, shows over 75% of people who used to receive ILF payments have now either completed the review of their future support with their local authority, or are in the process of doing so. Consequently over a third of all people who received payments (around 400 of the current total of 1,300) are now receiving their support from their local authority, in the same way as the majority of disabled people in Wales. In addition, authorities are reporting that most people are receiving support similar to that they received using their ILF payments, with no significant issues being raised. The remaining people are to have completed the review of their future support by the end of September and to be receiving support from their local authority by the end of March next year.

This position reaffirms that our decision to introduce this change in a phased approach was the right one, with the two year transition period providing the much needed time people affected and local authorities alike require to agree the correct level and form of support people require to maintain their ability to live independently. It is understandable, however, some people affected will be apprehensive about this change and I have previously met the

leaders of a campaign to retain the WILG to explain the reasons for the change taking place. That said I am not complacent and have recently commissioned the All Wales Forum, working with Disability Wales, to produce a questionnaire for people going through this process to let us have their views on their experiences and where any improvements in the process may be made. In addition, I am writing to local authorities to reinforce the importance of this transition and of the conversations they are holding with people in ensuring they receive the future support particular to them to deliver their wellbeing outcome of living independently in the community.

Wear them with Pride

Two new badges have arrived and will soon be available. Thanks must go to Keith Sinclair and his badge making contact, Rob.

The first badge is of the character I created with the help of an online Avatar creator during my dark years in Inverness. I like using this Avatar on all my work as it means I did something useful during these ‘lost’ years. They are perfect for my growing fanbase who want to show their support for my work 🙂

The Wrexham DPAC badges will hopefully help to foster a sense of togetherness for disabled people based in Wrexham as we fight back against the exploitation shown towards to us by Wrexham Council. An example of this unfairness can be seen below.

Both badges will be available at forthcoming information days or directly from me at £1 each.

 

***

I wrote the following paragraph in an email to a friend following an annoying trip to Wrexham Town Centre where they have just introduced car park charges for Blue Badge holders despite my protest, which can be read in previous blog posts.

Just had a frustrating drive around town where I could not find anywhere to park. These damn principles won’t let me pay the Council anything so it seems that I won’t be able to go to town until 2022 when I hope we can elect a decent bunch of Councillors. I was thinking of maybe printing loads of stickers to paste around town protesting these parking charges.Something needs to be done as all they have succeeded in doing is to cut me off from their hometown. I wanted to open a bank account at NatWest today but I am not paying to park my car.  

32714424_2105453489740488_7717591811803316224_n

Thanks to Sylvia Prankard for the photograph. 

The revolving door of disability assessments and appeal is still killing people who are chronically ill

Politics and Insights

Sandra BurnsSandra Burns

Social security was originally designed to ensure that everyone was protected from the worst ravages of unfettered capitalism. To say that we have regressed as a society since then is an understatement. 

‘Behavioural economics’ are currently embedded within our current welfare system. This is a technocratic solution to essentially politically created problems. It addresses social problems by simply shifting the blame and responsibility from state to individual. This has led to an increasingly punitive social security system, aimed at pushing people into employment, regardless of whether or not they are able to work. ‘Nudge’ is increasingly being used by an authoritarian Conservative government to ensure citizens behaviours are aligned with neoliberal ideology and policy outcomes.

People who are chronically ill are suffering terribly because of the government’s anti-welfare ideolology. Yet most of us have paid tax and National Insurance to ensure that we have access to social security…

View original post 1,155 more words

We Need YOUR Help To Point Out The Obvious & Prevent Potential Dire Consequences

#SaveWILG – thanks to Adam Samuels​

Clwyd South Labour Party

nathan-and-corbyn.jpgAbove picture: UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with SWILG campaign leader & WILG recipient Nathan Lee Davies. Clwyd South Labour party secretary Jackie Owen is also featured.

We find it quite astonishing that we have to write this article. Genuinely baffling, genuinely frustrating and genuinely worrying. Despite achieving something quite extraordinary-defeating Welsh Labour, almost unanimously, at Welsh Labour conference in terms of our motion to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (SWILG aka WILG) CLICK HERE for full info, the government in Wales has ignored this. Providing little more than saying ‘we are just going to completely ignore you & democracy’ by not offering even a review!!

It also means they are ignoring disability groups (we take exception to the suggestion that disability groups were consulted and supported the scrapping of WILG), Welsh Labour MPs, AMs, English MPs, the above photo!, the Welsh Labour membership, Unite the union who…

View original post 920 more words

‘I will spend what remains of my life fighting this if I have to’ – Disabled man’s battle for grant to live independently #SaveWILG

The following article appeared in the Daily Post and includes a video of me speaking to the Journalist Steven Bagnall as the fight to #SaveWILG intensifies.

***

A disabled man says he will continue fighting for the rest of his life against Welsh Government moves to scrap a grant to help him live independently.

Nathan Lee Davies from Wrexham, made the pledge after social care minister Huw Iranca-Davies indicated this week ministers are pressing ahead with the plan to stop the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

The £27m fund is paid to about 1,300 disabled people in Wales to allow them to live in their own homes.

But the cash is currently being transferred to local authorities and by the end of March next year they will assess and decide on care packages.

Mr Davies, who is campaigning against the move, fears the money will be absorbed into struggling council’s cash-strapped budgets and will see the 86.5 hours he currently receives massively reduced.

He has friedreich ataxia disease which damages the nerve system.

It has left him needing an electric wheelchair to get about and extensive care to live alone.

“We were on a massive high after the Welsh Labour conference voted to oppose the moves,” Mr Davies said.

“But after what Huw Iranca- Davies recently said, it is massively deflating. I do fear I may become trapped in my house.

Nathan Davies outside his home. Mr Davies is determined to fight to keep the Welsh Independent Living Grant (Image: Daily Post Wales)

“I feel like I am wasting precious time fighting this – I am 41 and the average life expectancy for someone with my condition is 35.

“But I feel it is the right thing to do – not just for me – but for the other 1,300 people, some who cannot speak up for themselves and I will do it until the end if I have to.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said no individual would lose their current payments until they have worked through and agreed their support package with the council.

He said: “Welsh Government and councils in Wales are determined to support independent living for all disabled people, recognising that independent living is key to a full and satisfying life.

“We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing transition to the new scheme to make sure this happens.”

A Wrexham council spokeswoman said the authority is following the Welsh Government process and working to review all people in receipt of the WILG.

She said: “It is not possible to predict what the outcomes will be for individuals.

“We do work with people to identify alternative ways for them to meet their support needs where it is appropriate.

Open Letter to Welsh CLPs #SaveWILG


I am writing to you as a Labour Party member, Unite activist and disability rights campaigner to call on your support as we work together to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

#SaveWILG OUTLINED

WAG is devolving the funds and responsibility for former Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipients to 22 local authorities.  Many of these authorities are not Labour controlled, many are already strapped for cash and the money that is due to be transferred hasn’t been ringfenced for the benefit of current WILG recipients…

Under the ILF, recipients received an independent third person who was involved in negotiating care packages along with the Local Authority.  This was a great source of support to people with high care and support needs and is something that needs to be re-established.  Sole reliance on local authorities is dangerous and lessons should be learned from England where funds have been distributed to local authorities since 2015 with disastrous effects.

The money from the WAG is a clear (transparent) amount specific to WILG recipients. However, it is currently planned for this money to be paid to local authorities under the Revenue Support Act and could therefore be subsumed into other projects while local authorities try to cut back on our specific care package provision.

Why should former WILG recipients have to fight for the care package they need, not simply to exist, but to be able to live a decent and fulfilled life?  This is an impossible task for the vast majority of recipients who live with conditions such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy or Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The families of former WILG recipients will inevitably suffer as they will find themselves trying to fill the gaps in care provision not covered in the new “reduced” care package provided by the local authority.

Our care package is essential to our existence, it is not a privilege: Why would a civilised society put us through this misery? It is a human right to be treated fairly and equally with everyone else, so why are we being squeezed into this disadvantageous position by our own Labour government. They have got this wrong, but there is still time for them to revisit this decision and retain the WILG…

Motion 4 to save WILG was overwhelmingly passed at the Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno during April 2018, but Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies has since stated that he would not rethink the policy “in its entirety”. This has transformed the #SaveWILG campaign from a quest to protect independent living for vulnerable individuals to exactly that plus a fight to preserve Party Democracy. The will of our members MUST be listened to.

The Welsh Government tried to defend their actions by claiming they had acted in accordance to the instructions of a stakeholder group. I have spoken to several members of the advisory group who DID oppose LA provision. Surely, this calls into question the basis for the Minister’s decision. There’s been a total lack of imagination on the part of the Welsh Government in terms of creating an independent living plan that all local authorities must buy into. This would be a guarantee of ensuring equity across Wales

We are constantly being told that it is unfair that only a certain percentage of the population receive WILG and that this creates a two-tier system throughout Wales. I would suggest that the WAG should look to the fine example of ILF Scotland and roll out such a system to all disabled people with high care and support needs in Wales.

This motion has cross-party support with Plaid Cymru, and even UKIP & Conservative AMs lending support and fighting against this proposal. Welsh Deputy Leader candidate Julie Morgan AM also supports the campaign and has called for an “urgent enquiry” re scrapping WILG. We have had support from English MPs like Chris Williamson, many AMs, officials etc. The film director Ken Loach (pictured below) also supports the campaign, as do many other high-profile cultural figures like the poet & musician Atilla The Stockbroker, comedian & campaigner Mark Thomas, esteemed Welsh footballers like Joey Jones, Mickey Thomas, Wayne Phillips and so many more people from all sorts of backgrounds.

Support disabled people and their families 

WILG – Because we’re worth it

#SaveWILG

HOW YOU CAN HELP?

We are urging our comrades to get involved in the important campaign in a number of ways. Please see below how you can support our postcard campaign and spread memes across social media and email to raise awareness. There are also a number of campaigns being planned over the next few months and details will be posted on my blog.

The main people that we need to convince to change direction are First Minister Carwyn Jones, Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies and all of the candidates in the Welsh Labour Leadership Election. The key emails are:

First Minister Carwyn Jones: Carwyn.Jones@gov.wales or Tweet @fmwales
Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies: DS.MinCandSC@gov.wales or Tweet @huw4ogmore
Mark Drakeford AM: Mark.Drakeford@gov.wales or Tweet @wgcs_finance

Other emails will be published once we have a full list of candidates running in the meantime you can contact your local AM and anyone connected to the Welsh Government.

For more information please contact Nathan Lee Davies at nathandavies01@hotmail.com There is also a dedicated Facebook page to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant and Twitter users should follow @nathanleedavies

Continue reading for further supporting evidence on why saving this grant is so crucial for 1,300 disabled people and the democratic future of the Party we all believe in.

Media Articles

Wales Live, BBC One Wales, 09/05/2018

Welsh Government under pressure over disabled grant

Disabled man continues fight for independent lives in Flintshire and Wrexham

This disabled man has lost half his care after Tories axed the Independent Living Fund

Welsh Government has ‘sold disabled people down the river’

Independent living grants: Disability campaigner fear cuts

Postcards

Take part in our postcard campaign in a number of ways. We would like to encourage people to print the image below and pose for a selfie while holding it to show your support and help raise awareness  of our campaign. You can share it on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Instagram using #SaveWILG.

Alternatively, you can contact me for one of the 500 cards I have had printed with a special message to Children and Social Care Minister Huw Irranca-Davies. There are also cards to be sent to First Minister Carwyn Jones and blank cards that can be sent to the Leadership Candidates who must realise that if they want our support they must publicly support our campaign. You can also send these postcards to your local AM to encourage them to argue our case in the Senedd.

Memes

To be shared on social media or sent to your AM via email.

Button badges – Only £1

Wear one of our badges with pride to help raise awareness and raise much-needed funds to propel the campaign forward. Contact me to make a purchase and I will make sure the badges get to you quickly and safely.