Letter from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM – #SaveWILG

I received the following letter from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM ahead of our meeting tomorrow.

I was a little disappointed and confused by this letter and the whole host of concrete evidence that it ignores in favour of working towards saving the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We will reserve these arguments for our meeting tomorrow and look forward to working with Julie Morgan to help safeguard independent living for disabled people with high care and support needs in Wales.

***

21 January 2019

Dear Nathan,

I am looking forward to meeting both you and Sheila Meadows at your home on 24 January to discuss the position on the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). In advance of this I thought I would let you know of the outcome of the recent “deep dive” review which local authorities were instructed to do before Christmas. This was so that we were assured of the position on the transfer of people’s support to authorities’ social services.

As you may know to be assured of this position the former Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care instructed all local authorities to review all cases where, following an assessment of someone’s care needs, there was an intention to reduce the local authority’s direct support to the person in what would have been the WILG element of their overall support. This was to identify the reasons for these, the exact scale of any reductions and to receive from each authority a personal assurance that where this was to occur it was appropriate and did not impact on that person’s ability to live independently in the community.

These deep dive reviews were undertaken at the end of 2018 and a summary of the
outcome is attached for your information. Of the 1,174 people who had completed at that time their future care review as part of this transfer, only in 157 cases (13%) was a reduction in the former WILG element of their support proposed as a result. In the majority of cases people’s care reviews had identified them as requiring future care of a similar nature and level to that they currently received, while people were to receive a higher level and intensity of care following their review in a slightly higher number of cases to that where a reduction was proposed.

Where a reduction was proposed, the level of this varied from individual to individual depending upon their particular circumstances and the reason for their reduction. Hence most people to receive a reduction in the former WILG element of their support were to receive a reduction of between 1-14 hours a week, with a wide range of reasons for this.

Of particular note were instances where a change in social care support, either in the way this is provided or of a different type, has had a consequential effect on the level of formal care a person requires. There were also a number of cases where people had developed a need for healthcare since the ILF’s last care reviews undertaken in 2015 and hence no longer have a requirement for social care. In addition, there were instances where changes were to be made to the commissioning arrangements or level of support for a person, due to the full value of their funding not being fully utilised previously. Often this was at the request of the person or their family.

To ensure local authorities had undertaken these deep dive reviews correctly, the former Minister met at the end of last year local authorities’ relevant social care Cabinet Members and all Directors of Social Services (or their representatives) on a regional basis. This was to question them on the outcome of their deep dive reviews to ensure the support they were putting in place for people was genuinely helping them to live independently and to give authorities the opportunity of raising any implementation issues they were encountering.

During these meetings local authority representatives provided their personal assurance that where reductions were to occur these were appropriate, did not impact on that person’s ability to live independently in the community and, in the vast majority of cases, had been agreed with the person concerned. Where they had not been agreed with the person authorities were seeking to resolve this with them. In addition, no major implementation issues were raised by authorities as being of concern.

There is, as I am sure you will agree, a critical need to ensure that the completion of this transfer of support for those people affected is undertaken correctly in a manner which does truly support their ability to continue to live independently. As a result, to ensure I have a full picture of the issues I am currently getting myself appraised of the background to this issue, the action to date and the implications of the outcome of the deep dive review the former Minister undertook.

Perhaps we could discuss this outcome when we meet, as well as your and Sheila’s concerns, so that I can decide what further action may need to be taken to ensure the transfer is effective in supporting independent living.

I am copying this letter and its attachment to Shelia Meadows and look forward to meeting your both this Thursday.

Yours sincerely

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

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