Cardiff

Minutes of meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies #SaveWILG

The following notes where typed up by Sheila Meadows OBE following are meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies  last week. As time goes on, I regret not saying certain things and holding him accountable for his party’s failings over the past few years. This is why I am trying to set up another meeting in Cardiff with the honourable gentlemen.

Anyway, good or bad, these are the minutes from our meeting:

18/01/18

#SaveWILG meeting

Present: Mathew Hall (Civil Servant Policy Division), Ruth Parness (PA Ministers Private Office), Huw Irranca-Davies, Ian Lucas MP, Nathan Lee Davies, Sheila Meadows OBE, Tia Louise Wills

Notes taken by  Sheila Meadows OBE

Nathan Lee Davies (NLD) opened the meeting explaining it has been a long, hard campaign since 2010 and particularly since 2015 with the closure of ILF and the beginning of WILG

A Social Worker visited NLD in 2015 and informed him that without WILG the council would be looking to reduce his hours of support. NLD explained he had a progressive condition and requires additional support not less. He explained his fears for the future.

NLD described his involvement in the community and states his campaign is formed from a desire to help all WILG recipients have positive outcomes.

NLD feels targeted by Wrexham Council as a disabled person (Social Care cuts/Blue Badge issues) and is frightened of the future. NLD explained the need for an independent third party that can fulfil the role of ILF in providing information and support in dealing with the council to give uniformity across councils.

NLD requested that the minister take this opportunity to achieve something better for disabled people, not just WILG recipients.

Huw Irranca-Davies (HID) discussed the history of the consultation process, Steve Harris’s 4th option and was given notes sent by Steve and the Wrexham consultation notes. He accepted there had never been complete agreement in the stakeholder group but was clear he wanted every penny of the £27 million to go to the care of former ILF recipients to maintain their independent living. HID is also aware of the problems facing disabled people in England.

HID was clear that he had no intention of changing policy, but was also clear that he expected LAs to be assessing fairly to meet needs. Under the SSWBA, ALL people should be supported to achieve the outcomes they require for their mental and physical health.

Ian Lucas (IL) pointed out that when an urgent letter was sent to Wrexham council in November, far from supporting recipients by making contact and reducing anxiety as requested they had merely filed it. He has no confidence that Wrexham LA will come forward to produce a process or plan for meeting the high level of needs of this group of disabled people.

There was a wide discussion on how and who takes responsibility when a LA does not, or cannot meet the requirements of the WG.

NLD explained how he felt during initial discussions with his social worker last month. She laughed when he suggested he needed 24-hour care and knew the panel would reject such a request out of hand. NLD feels far from working with him to meet his needs, he is seen as an inconvenient nuisance by Wrexham council.

HID and Matthew Hall (MH) confirmed the policy was not to reduce the support people have but to meet their needs to continue to live in the community.

MH has agreed to send a follow up letter to NLD and Sheila Meadows (SM) once he has spoken with HID – who has now left the meeting. NLD and SM also reinforced the loss of the knowledgeable and supportive body we had in ILF and MH agreed to consider how to ensure an LA who is not performing well will be forced/supported to move forward.

SM closed the meeting with a quote by Gwenda Thomas: “It is no longer good enough that they do things differently – we must do different things.”

The Campaign Continues… #SaveWILG

Life is hectic at the moment.  I have just had a meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies to discuss the future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.  This was probably the most important meeting of my life and others present – including Ian Lucas MP – said I performed well, but as always I am my own worst critic and I feel that I should have pushed things further.  We were limited to time and I had to loads that I could not say so I am proposing another meeting in Cardiff if this guarantees us a longer meeting to discuss all the essential details.

The talk seemed to be more about how the Welsh Government could get local authorities – such as the hapless one in Wrexham – to fulfil their legal obligations in a more efficient manner.  I kept pointing out that this was not good enough as it would still leave us without representation from an external, third-party body that is independent in nature.  This is the bottom line of what we want and I will continue to campaign until we get it, although I am not holding  my breath as we search for humility and humanity within the Welsh Government.

I am overloaded with things to do as next Wednesday is the opening of the #SaveWILG art exhibition at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, North Wales.  The official media day for this is on February 2nd while on February 3rd we have a community awareness day for the #SaveWILG campaign.  We have managed to line up lots of exciting entertainment and a really good day is in store.  We hope to see you there 🙂

Our North-East Wales WLG/M comrades are centrally involved in organising this great event. It will be a fantastic occasion, but we need to get as many people there as possible! This is a day of entertainment and information. There is alcohol, soft drinks and food on sale at the venue and there is full Disabled access and a Disabled toilet. Some of our comrades are performing, but we would love to hear back from you or anyone you know how is in any way creative and/or a performer. Please do get in contact with either Vic Grout (vic.grout@glyndwr.ac.uk) or Louise Bosanquet (louise.bosanquet@hotmail.co.uk) if you would like to perform or know someone who would. The least we hope anyone can do is promote this event by sharing the flyer and printing it off and putting around your area, disability groups, CLPs etc etc. Raising awareness of the event is crucial to the campaign’s success! The event is FREE to all. Please do help in any way you can!

Cabinet Reshuffle #SaveWILG

Interesting news from Cardiff today as there has been a cabinet reshuffle at the Senedd. This means Rebecca Evans is no longer the Minister for Social Services and Public Health. The person we now need to lobby with regard to the #SaveWILG campaign is Huw Irranca-Davies who has been made Minister for Children and Social Care. I congratulate him on his appointment and look forward to working with him to help support and salvage Independent Living for disabled people across Wales.

The BBC published a full account of the cabinet reshuffle, which can be read below:

Independent AM and former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Elis-Thomas is to join the Welsh Government as a minister.

Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle – promoting five AMs.

Lord Elis-Thomas will be minister for culture, tourism and sport – a deputy to economy secretary Ken Skates.

He left the party in October last year following a series of disputes with Leanne Wood, and has been voting with the Welsh Government.

The reshuffle came as Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant was removed from the cabinet amid allegations about his behaviour.

Other promotions include Neath AM Jeremy Miles becoming Counsel General, replacing Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, and Alun Davies, the AM for Blaenau Gwent, joining as cabinet secretary for local government and public services.

The latter appointment marks the return of Mr Davies to the cabinet since he was sacked from it in 2014.

Swansea West AM Julie James replaces Vale of Glamorgan AM Jane Hutt – a minister since 1999 and the longest-serving Labour minister of all time in the UK – as leader of the house and chief whip.

Below cabinet level, Delyn AM Hannah Blythyn, Eluned Morgan, the AM for mid and west Wales, and Huw Irranca-Davies, Ogmore AM, join the government in junior jobs.

Ms Blythyn will be minister for the environment, Ms Morgan is minister for Welsh language and life-long learning, and Mr Davies becomes minister for children and social care.

All three – and Mr Miles – were newly elected to the Senedd in 2016.

Mark Drakeford remains cabinet secretary for finance, but his responsibility for local government has been given to Alun Davies.

Meanwhile social services minister Rebecca Evans moves to become minister for housing and regeneration.

‘Experience and stability’

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “I am proud to announce my new ministerial team, which provides a balance of experience and stability, with new drive and energy.

“This strong team will drive forward our ambitious plans for Wales – focusing on growing the Welsh economy, creating jobs, supporting our public services and improving the day-to-day lives of the people of Wales.”

But Plaid Cymru Group Chair Dai Lloyd AM said his party was “unimpressed”.

“Wales as a nation is crying out for new ideas and a change of direction. Wales still does not have a government that will lift the country up the league tables and inspires people with its agenda,” he said.

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, praised Ms Hutt’s contribution but added: “New names and new faces count for very little – positive outcomes are all that matter to the people of Wales. We need a change in ideology”.

Letter from Ken Skates AM #SaveWILG

This letter has been sent to a number of #SaveWILG  campaigners from Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates who has represented the constituency of Clwyd South since the National Assembly for Wales election of 2011. I don’t know why I am bothering sharing this nonsense, but if you don’t read it yourself then you wont believe the inaccuracies that are being pedalled by the Welsh Government.

It is an interesting aside that this is the man who I worked with at the Evening Leader In the late nineties. I would read and sub edit his work and we both went on a jolly to Legoland, Windsor when I was asked to review the theme park. I drove there while he slept in the passenger seat, now he is defending Welsh Labour for copying the Tories of Westminster and basically selling me down the river. What ever he says, the same will happening Wales as is happening in England. Maybe he actually believes that Welsh Labour are doing the right thing by closing WILG, but I am actually living with the consequences of the end of a three way triangular structure to care and support and I can assure him that it is a living nightmare.

Before you read the letter, which I will reply to if I ever get the chance, I must try to express my frustrations with life at the moment. I am really struggling to type at all, at a time when I need to write so many emails and letters. My diary is jam packed but I don’t have enough care and support to attend all the appointments that I have. I am stressed and worried about the future while I sit in loneliness and desperation with a puddle of piss on the bathroom floor after dropping my urinal. I have to wait for support to arrive to clear this up.

I want to assure Ali Granger, Andrew Ranger, Paul Swann and Liz Lefroy that I will respond to their emails ASAP.

I will finish this blog with a humorous observation. I was incredulous when I received an email from Welsh Labour who where offering signed Jeremy Corbyn bags as a prize in a fundraising drive. You couldn’t make it up. Welsh Labour have a track record of distancing themselves from JC, but here they are exploiting an opportunity to profit from the popularity of the Labour leader. The Labour manifesto actually proposes a return to a three tiered care system, which the powers that be in Cardiff are doing their best to destroy.

Bedtime now, but here is the letter from Ken Skates. I wonder who sub-edited it…

 

Dear XXXX
 
Thank you for taking the time to contact me recently on this important issue.
 
The Conservative UK Government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015 and the Welsh Labour Government subsequently established the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) as an interim scheme administered by local councils to ensure people receiving payments through the ILF continued to do so. The Minister for Social Service and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, extended the transitional scheme last year until March 31 this year in order to develop longer-term arrangements in consultation with organisations representing people with disabilities.
 
WILG was only ever meant to be a short-term measure to provide continuity of support for former recipients of ILF. The UK Government provided a transfer of £27m a year to meet the cost of providing this interim support, but this leaves no scope to fund a change in people’s needs, any changes in the cost of the support they require or for operating any scheme to support them. Such costs, therefore, need to be taken out of this funding at the expense of care for all.
 
The Minister looked at a range of options for long-term support that ensures people with disabilities in receipt of WILG continue to receive support to meet the additional costs of living independently in the community. In doing so, it became clear that continuing with a separate scheme outside of normal social services provision would not be appropriate. This is because it would continue the inequity of some disabled people receiving their support from their local authority, while others receive specific WILG payments in addition to the support they receive from their council. It was also felt that continuing with a separate scheme had the potential of becoming unsustainable in the longer-term as the money provided for it by the UK Government was fixed at £27m a year so the value of payments through the scheme would gradually diminish. In addition, this fixed sum does not take into account costs associated with changes in a person’s needs and would not be enough to meet the needs of those who receive it.
 
Rebecca Evans concluded that future support through normal social care provision via local authorities would be the most effective approach as it ensures that funding is used to provide support to recipients rather than being used disproportionately towards operating costs of a separate scheme as is currently the case. This approach addresses the issue of equality for all people with disabilities in receipt of social care support in Wales while making the best use of finite resources.
 
The Welsh Government recognises that some recipients would have preferred a different decision and is aware of concerns about the way in which a transfer to local authorities has worked in England. The Welsh Government has looked closely at developments in England and has learned lessons about what not to do. Funding for the WILG will continue in its current format until 2018-19, when it will transfer to councils. During this time, local authorities will meet with recipients of WILG and their representatives to identify the outcomes they are seeking to achieve and agree a package of support with them. Once this support is available, it will be provided to help people live independently instead of the payments previously received and the expectation is that by March 31, 2019 all WILG recipients will receive their support in this way. Recipients of WILG will only move into the new arrangements when the support they require is available.
 
Once again, thank you for contacting me on this issue. I fully understand why some of my constituents want the scheme to continue, but hope that the information provided will reassure you that the Welsh Government is not simply copying what the UK Government did in England and is putting in place a long-term solution which is fair to all disabled people who receive support from their local authority. This will ensure that they continue to live as independently as possible in their own homes. Please be assured that I will continue to raise your views with the Minister for Social Services and Public Health in all relevant discussions.
 
 
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything I can help with in the future.
 
 
Best wishes,
 
 
Ken

Help needed on Twitter #SaveWILG

I am requesting help on Twitter to get the message across to Assembly Members across Wales that there is still time to reverse the awful decision to close WILG and transfer all responsibilities for Independent Living to local authorities.

A list of AM Twitter handles can be found below along with a suggested Tweet and electronic postcards and memes that can be attached to Tweets for greater impact. Even if you only manage to Tweet a handful of AMs, this could make a real difference to disabled people across Wales.

Thanks for your support.

***

SUGGESTED TWEETS:

Disabled ppl with high care and support needs are in search of your support to maintain Independent Living for all. #SaveWILG

Wales voted Labour. Don’t copy Tory policy and damage independent living 4 disabled ppl #SaveWILG

This is the impact of closing the ILF in England  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-living-fund-post-closure-review #SaveWILG

Welsh Labour: Don’t copy Tories in Westminster. Protect independent living 4 disabled ppl #SaveWILG

These Tweets should be accompanied by some of the many postcard photographs, electronic postcards and memes.

***

David Melding @DavidMeldingAM

Lynne Neagle @lynne_neagle

Gareth Bennett AC/AM @GarethBennettAM

David Rowlands AC/AMVerified account @DavidRowlandsAM

Hefin David AC/AM @hef4caerphilly

Caroline Jones AC/AM @carolineUKIP

Dr Dai Lloyd AC/AM @DaiLloydAM

Carl Sargeant AM @Carl4AandD Michelle Brown AM @MishBrownAM

Carwyn Jones AM/ACVerified account @AMCarwyn

Joyce Watson AM @JoyceWatsonam

Nathan GillVerified account @NathanGillMEP

Neil Hamilton AC/AMVerified account @NeilUKIP

John Griffiths AM @JGriffithsLab

Vikki Howells AM @VikkiHowells

Ann Jones AM @ann_jonesam

David Rees @DavidReesAM

Neil McEvoy AM @neiljmcevoy

Ken Skates AMVerified account @KenSkatesAM

Dafydd Elis-Thomas @ElisThomasD

MickAntoniw AM @MickAntoniw1

Jayne Bryant AM @JBryantWales

Mike Hedges @MikeHedgesAM

Julie James AMVerified account @JulieJamesAM

Rebecca Evans AMVerified account @RebeccaEvansAM

Eluned Morgan @Eluned_Morgan

JaneHutt AMVerified account @JaneHutt

Rhianon Passmore @rhi4islwyn

Elin Jones @ElinCeredigion

Vaughan Gething AMVerified account @vaughangething

Mark Drakeford AMVerified account @MarkDrakeford

Mark Isherwood AMVerified account @MarkIsherwoodAM

Angela Burns @AngelaBurnsAM

Mohammad Asghar AMVerified account @MohammadAsghar

Lesley GriffithsVerified account @lesley4wrexham

Nick RamsayVerified account @NickRamsayAM

Andrew RT DaviesVerified account @AndrewRTDavies

Simon ThomasVerified account @SimonThomasAC

Huw Irranca-DaviesAMVerified account @huw4ogmore

Russell George AMVerified account @russ_george

Rhun ap IorwerthVerified account @RhunapIorwerth

Julie MorganVerified account @JulieMorganLAB

Sian Gwenllian AC/AM @siangwenfelin

Janet Finch-SaundersVerified account @JFinchSaunders

Lee Waters AMVerified account @Amanwy

Alun DaviesVerified account @AlunDaviesAM

Jeremy Miles AC/AMVerified account @Jeremy_Miles

Jenny Rathbone AMVerified account @JennyRathbone

Mark Reckless AMVerified account @MarkReckless

Dawn Bowden AM @Dawn_Bowden

Llyr Gruffydd AC/AM @LlyrGruffydd

suzy daviesVerified account @suzydaviesam

Darren Millar AMVerified account @DarrenMillarAM

Steffan LewisVerified account @steffanlewis

Adam PriceVerified account @Adamprice

Hannah Blythyn AM @hannahblythyn

Kirsty WilliamsVerified account @Kirsty_Williams

LeanneWoodVerified account @LeanneWood

Bethan Maeve AM/ACVerified account @bethanjenkins

 

 

Silenced by Disability Wales

As I write this blog, I am feeling quite insulted as I have just received an email from the good people at Disability Wales who have sent me the agenda for their annual conference in Cardiff. It makes for interesting reading – not because of what it includes, but rather because of what it does not mention.

Of course, there are many important topics up for discussion with some excellent speakers – as well as Carl Sargeant AM. There is no doubt that this will be a well-organised and informative day, but to my mind there is one key issue that is missing from the agenda.

I received an email many moons ago, advising me that Disability Wales could not support my #SaveWILG campaign because of some political bias. This was disappointing and frustrating as I think that everything is political to a certain degree and I have made every effort to make my campaign about the future of independent living in Wales and beyond, rather than focusing on the failures of any political parties.

My campaign has been going really well without the support of Disability Wales. I have had my petition discussed by the Petitions Committee in the Senedd and they have agreed to the following :

  • Consider the petition further in the context of the budget announcement due later that afternoon; and in the meantime
  • Write to the Minister for Social Services and Public Health to share the concerns of the petitioner and ask:
    • whether she will publish the results of the public consultation and minutes of the stakeholder group as requested by the petitioner;
    • whether an Equality Impact Assessment of the decision was carried out and can be provided to the Committee and petitioner; and
    • for her views as to whether the planned transitional arrangements will ensure that the aims of the Social Services & Wellbeing (Wales) Act will have been put into practice by local authorities before the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

This has all been achieved by me and my comrades so to be airbrushed from the main platform for disability activism in Wales is quite an insult. It is especially annoying as the reason that my campaign could not be supported by DW is so that they do not upset their funders even though my campaign is in the interests of DW members. I believe something’s are worth fighting for and I will continue fighting for my principles no matter who I disagree with.

I hope everyone enjoys the DW Conference and that the day is a success, but members should remember that they will not hear the voices of all disabled activists in Wales. If anyone who attends wants to contribute to the #SaveWILG campaign, please do get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or the Contact page.

Hello,
You are invited to the following event:

Annual Conference and AGM 19th October 2017

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Event to be held at the following time, date and location:

Thursday, 19 October 2017 from 09:30 to 15:30 (BST)

Orbit Centre
Rhydycar Business Park
CF48 1DL
United Kingdom

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Share this event:

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During 2017, the review of the Framework for Action on Independent Living and the UN’s examination of the UK and Welsh Government regarding implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People has provided a timely focus on whether policies and provision in Wales deliver on disability rights and equality.

Furthermore, as arguments over ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit rage, what impact will it have on disabled people and following the outcome of the General Election, where does it leave the UK Government’s austerity agenda?

Disability Wales’s Annual Conference Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes explores these questions and issues with the assistance of a panel of expert speakers and round-table discussions.

  • Find out how Welsh Government proposes to take forward its commitment to disabled people’s rights from the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant AM
  • Hear how Access Consultant Dan Biddle challenges work place discrimination and barriers to employment
  • Learn about the EHRC’s approach to tackling discrimination faced by disabled people from Ruth Coombs, the new Head of Wales
  • Be inspired to campaign for change by leading disability rights activist Tara Flood from the Reclaiming our Futures Alliance
  • Network and exchange ideas with fellow DW members, stakeholders and supporters.
  • Be the first to preview DW’s new website as a tool for sharing information, resources and expertise on disability rights and equality

Annual Conference and AGM

Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes

Programme

9.30am:     Registration & Refreshments

10.15am:   Welcome and Scene Setting

                             Rhian Davies, Chief Executive

10.30am:   Personal Perspectives

Dan Biddle, Managing Director, Nationwide Access Consultants Ltd

10.45am:   Campaigning for Change

                             Tara Flood, Reclaiming our Futures Alliance

11.00am:   Regulating our Rights

                             Ruth Coombs, Head of Wales, EHRC

11.15am:   Panel Discussion

11.30am:   Break

11.45am:   Round Table Discussions

12.20pm:   Driving Forward Disability Rights

Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children

12.45pm:   Summary

1.00pm:     Lunch

2.00pm:     Website Launch

                             Demonstration: Promo Cymru

2.30pm:     AGM and Project Presentations      3.30pm:         Close

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it.

Best,
Disability Wales

Trip to the Senedd

Earlier this week, I travelled to Cardiff to handover my #SaveWILG petition to the petitions committee at the Senedd. It was a productive day in which I garnered many new contacts across the political spectrum and I received much support that gives me the energy I need to continue this fight now that I am actually getting somewhere.

 

 

The petition will now be considered at the next meeting of the petitions committee on October 3rd. As I understand it, Ministers will be asked for their opinions and views on the subject and I then have the right to reply. It is great to be involved in this democratic process and I am very proud of the work that my comrades and I are doing towards our aim for a equal and inclusive society for all.

Please excuse me for cutting this blog short, but I have much to do and very little time in which to do it. When your week is only 86.5 hours long, there really isn’t enough hours in the day…