Following the BBC Wales Live programme last night, I took it upon myself to write an open letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones about the issues discussed.
If the Welsh Government think we are just going to go away quietly then they can think again…
National Assembly for Wales
10 May 2018
Dear Carwyn Jones
WELSH INDEPENDENT LIVING GRANT
As you are aware, the Welsh Labour Party conference overwhelmingly passed a Clwyd South motion urging support for the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). Support for that motion came from a very wide spectrum of Labour Party opinion including AMs, MPs, CLPs and Trade Unions.
I am writing to ask you to urgently encourage the Welsh Assembly to support the retention of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).
Freedom of Information requests to Local Authorities clearly show that there are real difficulties appearing in the transition process, highlighted in startling inconsistencies in 19 of the 22 responses received at the time of writing.
Passing responsibility for social care wholly onto the shoulders of confused and cash-strapped local councils will result in an unfair postcode lottery to mirror the appalling situation in England and drag Disability Rights back 30 years. It doesn’t have to be this way…
I have a real problem with the assertion by the Minister for Children and Social Care that the stakeholder group were united in agreement with the closure of WILG and the transferring of funds to local authorities. This was quite simply not the case and I request that he should provide evidence in support of these claims. Was a vote held in the stakeholder advisory group? If so, on what date, what was the result, and can the minutes of that meeting please be provided?
The members of the stakeholder group that I have spoken to have stated their frustrations with the whole process: “I disagreed with one side of the room almost continuously,“ and “I would be amazed to see minutes of a meeting where all participants agreed that passing this WILG over to the local authority beyond the ring-fenced period was the way forward.” Others have said “I used to go home from all these stakeholder groups thinking we had agreed certain things to discover that was not what had been recorded.” and other activists argue that many officials and civil servants do not actually “know what Independent Living means – they still think ‘independent’ means managing without support”.
It would greatly assist me in understanding Welsh Government’s decision making process on this issue if the minutes of all of the meetings of the stakeholder advisory group can be provided, and I will submit a Freedom of Information Act request if necessary.
Finally, I would specifically request a meeting with to discuss matters relating to the WILG and the future prospects of those who have benefitted from the WILG.