Cardiff

Help needed across Social Media #SaveWILG

I am requesting help on Twitter, and social media in general, 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.

This is a crucial time for the #SaveWILG campaign as we are hoping to convince Assembly Members that they need to take action and protect people with high care and support needs across Wales by saving the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

Other key people to contact are members of the Petitions Committee who are continuing  to consider our petition – David Rowlands (@DavidRowlandsAM ‏), Janet Finch Saunders (@JFinchSaunders), Mike Hedges (@MikeHedgesAM), Rhun Ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) and Neil McEvoy (@neiljmcevoy). Any pressure we can put on politicians has to be a good thing as they need to realise the devastation that the decision to close WILG will have on disabled people and their families. The outgoing Carwyn Jones (@fmwales) and Huw Irancca Davies (@huw4ogmore) are also worth a tweet to remind them that this campaign is still going strong.

Hashtags 

The following hashtags are good to use at the end of the suggested messages below as they will increase the potential audience and help raise awareness. For a full run down on how hashtags work you can click here but in the meantime we have hashtags to decide on and tweets to send. Some suggested hashtags are as follows:

Obviously the following hashtags should be used only when the associated TV programme is being aired, or on the relevant day of the week. For example, #bbcqt should only be used while ‘Question Time’ is being aired. Likewise, the popular hashtag #FridayFeeling should only be used on a Friday. 

#bbcqt

#bbctw

#marr

#WalesLive

#ITVSharpEnd

#Brexit

#BrexitShambles

#MondayMotivation

#TuesdayThoughts

#WednesdayWisdom

#ThursdayThoughts

#FridayFeeling

#WeekendVibes

#Corrie

#Emmerdale

#EastEnders

A general 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.

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SUGGESTED TWEETS (these can be edited accordingly but serve as a guideline. You may also use these suggested Tweets as Facebook messages):

@ The absurd two-tier argument that Welsh Labour are using is absolutely ridiculous. It is to all intents and purposes an equalisation downward, however subtle and however long it takes to materialise.  

A UN’s report found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled ppls human rights’, and said it was a ‘human catastrophe’. Amongst their findings 2 reach this conclusion was their concerns at the ILF closure. r moving in the same direction.

needs to remember that WILG recipients are all disabled ppl with high care and support needs who cannot always speak for themselves. Any statistics in favour of the transition process r invariably unreliable.

@ Brexit may seem like the only game in town, but while politicians squabble over our withdraw from the European Union, disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales are in danger due to the loss of WILG.  #BrexitShambles

#@   Essential reading. This is ur chance to support disabled people with high care needs across Wales.

Essential reading from :

@ Social care is in crisis. Those with the highest care and support needs rely on WILG and governmental support. We’ve won a motion, collected evidence and won cross-party support. Show humanity, humility +

@ Disabled ppl with high care and support needs are in search of your support to maintain Independent Living for all. Are Welsh Labour planning on listening to the democratic wishes of their members

Disabled ppl with high care and support needs are in search of your support to maintain Independent Living for all. Are Welsh Labour planning on listening to the democratic wishes of their members

@ 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. WHAT USE IS A TRANSITION PERIOD IF OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AND A DEMOCRATIC VOTE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR A GOVERNMENTAL RE-THINK?

@ 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

@   – The Movie via

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

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I have updated this list of Twitter handles which was a little dated. Please remember that messages can also be sent via Facebook with accompanying memes. 

David Melding @DavidMeldingAM

Lynne Neagle @lynne_neagle

Gareth Bennett AC/AM @GarethBennettAM

David Rowlands AC/AM @DavidRowlandsAM

Hefin David AC/AM @hef4caerphilly

Caroline Jones AC/AM @carolineUKIP

Dr Dai Lloyd AC/AM @DaiLloydAM

Michelle Brown AM @MishBrownAM

Carwyn Jones AM/AC @AMCarwyn

Joyce Watson AM @JoyceWatsonam

Nathan Gill @NathanGillMEP

Neil Hamilton AC/AM @NeilUKIP

John Griffiths AM @JGriffithsLab

Vikki Howells AM @VikkiHowells

Ann Jones AM @ann_jonesam

David Rees @DavidReesAM

Neil McEvoy AM @neiljmcevoy

Ken Skates AM @KenSkatesAM

Dafydd Elis-Thomas @ElisThomasD

Mick Antoniw AM @MickAntoniw1

Jayne Bryant AM @JBryantWales

Mike Hedges @MikeHedgesAM

Julie James AM account @JulieJamesAM

Rebecca Evans AM @RebeccaEvansAM

Eluned Morgan @Eluned_Morgan

Jane Hutt AM  @JaneHutt

Rhianon Passmore @rhi4islwyn

Elin Jones @ElinCeredigion

Vaughan Gething AM @vaughangething

Mark Drakeford AM  @MarkDrakeford

Mark Isherwood AM @MarkIsherwoodAM

Angela Burns @AngelaBurnsAM

Mohammad Asghar AM @MohammadAsghar

Lesley Griffiths @lesley4wrexham

Nick Ramsay  @NickRamsayAM

Andrew RT Davies @AndrewRTDavies

Huw Irranca-Davies AM @huw4ogmore

Russell George AM @russ_george

Rhun ap Iorwerth @RhunapIorwerth

Julie Morgan @JulieMorganLAB

Sian Gwenllian AC/AM @siangwenfelin

Janet Finch-Saunders  @JFinchSaunders

Lee Waters AM @Amanwy

Alun Davies @AlunDaviesAM

Jeremy Miles AC/AM  @Jeremy_Miles

Jenny Rathbone AM  @JennyRathbone

Mark Reckless AM  @MarkReckless

Dawn Bowden AM @Dawn_Bowden

Llyr Gruffydd AC/AM @LlyrGruffydd

suzy davies @suzydaviesam

Darren Millar AM  @DarrenMillarAM

Steffan Lewis @steffanlewis

Adam Price @Adamprice

Hannah Blythyn AM @hannahblythyn

Kirsty Williams @Kirsty_Williams

LeanneWood @LeanneWood

Bethan Maeve AM/AC @bethanjenkins

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D-Day #SaveWILG

I have just been sent this letter by a trusted comrade that dates back to 2011 and the fight to save the Independent Living Fund from closure. To see this letter on it’s original web page, please click here.

Not only does this letter prove the depth of struggle that disabled people have been facing since the coalition Government came into place but it also entered my inbox on a fateful day that will soon see a new First Minister being unveiled in Cardiff.

I am really hoping that my preferred candidate is successful and that I can work with them over the coming months to #SaveWILG. Something needs to happen so I don’t have to experience nights like last night when I woke up at 02.30 in the morning and found myself without access to my bed remote to use the profiling feature that allows me to sit up straight and use the urinal.

Without going into too much detail, an accident occurred and I had no one else to call but my 68-year-old Father who is not able to assist me in the way that he could a few years ago.

The solution is obvious to you and me. I will carry on fighting for justice – for myself and all other disabled people with high support needs across Wales whoever is are new First Minister.

***

Maria Miller MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People
Department for Work and Pensions
1st Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London
SW1H 9NA

Dear Maria Miller,

Re: Shutting down the Independent Living Fund

It is only a few short days since I last wrote to you, as Minister for Disabled People, urging you to recall the Public Consultation on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform. I find myself writing again with regards to the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which appears to be the Coalition Government’s latest target in its war on disabled people.

You released a statement yesterday which announced that ILF would cease to exist in 2015. Many in the disabled community saw this coming, after the Fund was frozen to new applications for this year, but had hoped that you would see reason. Your statement is difficult to criticize fully because there is so little information on your plans except for vague promises of consultation in 2011. This lack of clarity has sent ILF claimants, their carers and their friends into panic. How is it possible for us to correspond with you when you fail to clarify your intentions?

In the statement you claim that “the model of the ILF as an independent discretionary trust delivering social care is financially unsustainable.” There appears to be no justification of this claim. The purpose of the ILF was to maintain and allow for people with high care needs to remain living independently in the community rather than the alternative of residential care. Given the expense of residential care, surely making it possible for 21,000 people to live independently is financially sustainable and eminently sensible.

The statement suggests that you will move “existing users of the ILF in to a social care system based on the principles of personalised budgets.” This means that the financial burden of care for those supported by the ILF will be foisted upon local authorities, who will set their own eligibility criteria and perform their own assessments of care needs. Levels of care provided will then decrease dramatically for those formerly supported by the ILF, and for those who would have applied for ILF in the past. This will mean that many will no longer be able to live independently and have to enter residential care, at far greater cost to the state. For others it will mean that living independently is no longer possible, with the families of these people having to meet their care needs.

The Ministerial Statement is difficult to critique further because of the lack of detail. It is fair that you should issue an immediate statement providing this detail. I also demand to see the DWP’s reasoning for the claim that ILF is “financially unsustainable”, and all documentation on which this claim was based. It appears that the Coalition Government have decided to make these changes without knowing what system will replace ILF, thus making decisions which affect 21,000 lives without due care and proper planning. I wish to receive an answer that confirms or denies this. If you confirm that ILF was shut down without firm plans for the future, I suggest that you issue a personal statement apologizing to the ILF caseload for causing doubt and panic amongst them. If you deny that no plans were made, I demand a copy of this documentation be published on the DWP website.

I am sure that DWP have completed an Impact Assessment an an Equality Impact Assessment with regards to this decision, and I request that both are made available to the public. I expect a prompt and detailed reply. A copy is being sent to the Secretary of State and to my constituency MP, Hywel Williams.

Yours sincerely,

Rhydian Fôn James

QUESTIONS OVER GETHING CAMPAIGN AS ‘RESEARCH COMPANY’ GATHERING WELSH MEMBER DATA

The following article appears on the excellent Skwawkbox blog.

Questions have been raised about the campaign of Welsh Labour leadership candidate Vaughan Gething after the activities of a ‘research company’ came to light.

The company has been calling Welsh Labour members and identifying itself as Vaughan Gethin’s ‘team’ and would not identify itself, but when challenged has admitted it is an ‘independent company’ ‘gathering research’ for him.

When asked where the call is coming from, one caller told a member he was in the north-east, but the call showed a Cardiff ‘029’ prefix.

The company is asking members whether they have voted, intend to vote or have decided which candidate they will vote for – and is then asking members for their email addresses, claiming – if challenged – that it needs an address to ‘cross-match’ with Labour’s records and to keep in touch but will be passing the data, along with its ‘research’, to Gething and not retaining it.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Vaughan Gething early yesterday to ask:

You have apparently employed a company to call Welsh Labour members about their voting intentions in the leadership ballot. The company has been telling members that it’s calling from the north-east, even though calling from a Cardiff number and has been asking members for their email addresses, claiming that this is for ‘cross-matching’, and has said such data will not be retained by the company but passed onto you.

Please provide the following by return:

– which company is involved?
– why are they asking for members’ email addresses when the Labour Party will already have them?
– why do you intend to retain the data?
– who is funding the company’s activities on your behalf and what is the cost?
– how confident are you that their activities will not spill over into paid canvassing?

The spending limit in the Welsh leadership contest is £1 per member – a little over £24,000 in total, including donations in kind and any type of resource:

welsh spend limit

The Tories were at the centre of controversy when they used a Welsh-based company for ‘research’, which the Information Commissioner ruled had in fact been paid marketing or canvassing.

Gething has also set up a company to retain data gathered during the campaign:

gething data.png

One Welsh Labour member who had been contacted told the SKWAWKBOX:

I already had concerns about the campaign and the candidate. Vaughan’s campaign manager is a Progress supporter, he’s supported by Owen Smith and has accepted campaign contributions from a company convicted for illegal dumping, which his register of interests confirms. But it’s extremely worrying that he’s now paying a company that won’t identify itself to gather data he intends to keep even after the election.

There are serious questions to answer but will he answer them? How is this allowed and who is paying?

Vaughan Gething had not responded to the SKWAWKBOX’s request for comment by the time of publication.

The following article appears on the excellent Skwawkbox blog.

Disability News Service: Welsh government’s independent living decision ‘threatens support of hundreds’

The following article was taken from the excellent Disability News Service website, written by John Pring.  This blogger takes no credit for the article below:

***

The Welsh government’s decision to close its independent living grant scheme and pass the funding to local authorities could see cuts to the support packages of hundreds of disabled people, new research suggests.

Disabled campaigners say that information released by local authorities in Wales has created “extreme cause for concern” about the transition process, which is seeing funding from the interim Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) passed to the 22 councils.

WILG was set up by the Welsh government – with UK government funding – as a short-term measure to support former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) when ILF was closed in June 2015.

But the Welsh government is now closing WILG and by April next year the 22 councils will be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients in Wales.

The Welsh government’s own estimates, released to Disability News Service (DNS) last night (Wednesday), suggest that about 200 former WILG-recipients will see their support packages cut by next April.

Members of the Save WILG campaign, led by former ILF-recipient Nathan Lee Davies (pictured), submitted freedom of information requests to all 22 Welsh councils earlier this year, and they say the responses proved they were right to be concerned that the transition process would lead to many former ILF-users seeing their support packages cut.

Few of the councils were willing to provide detailed information about how the process of re-assessing the needs of the former ILF-recipients in their areas would affect their support packages.

But some of the local authorities admitted that a significant proportion of those currently receiving support through the WILG have already had their support packages cut.

In Wrexham, Davies’ home local authority, the council said it had re-assessed less than a third of former ILF-users but had already cut the support of 18 of them, increasing support for just seven, and leaving one package unchanged.

Monmouthshire council had cut four of 19 packages, Conwy had reduced two of 12 – although the vast majority had still to be assessed – while Caerphilly had reduced four of 29, Merthyr Tydfil had reduced 15 per cent, and both Carmarthenshire and Rhondda councils had cut 10 per cent of support packages.

About a third of the councils – including Pembrokeshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Cardiff and Blaenau Gwent – failed to say how many support packages had been cut.

But some local authorities did produce more encouraging answers, with Powys council saying the reassessment process had seen it increase the support packages of 59 of 62 former ILF-users.

Although Port Talbot council had reviewed less than a third of service-users, half had had their packages increased, and the other half had seen them stay at the same level, while Bridgend decided that all but one former ILF-recipient would continue to receive the same support package.

There were also repeated warnings from the local authorities that they could not promise that support packages would not be cut in the future, with Cardiff council warning that “no guarantees as to the future are possible with any funding arrangement”.

Asked if it could guarantee that WILF recipients would have their care packages ring-fenced from all future austerity cuts forced onto local authorities, both Merthyr Tydfil and Port Talbot replied with just one word: “No.”

Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh government’s minister for social care, has previously pledged that no former ILF-users would lose out in the transition process.

But a Welsh government spokesman said that its most recent monitoring of the transition had found about 100 of 580 WILG-recipients were having their support “provided in a different manner than previously”*, while 130 were receiving more support.

As about 1,300 people are due to go through the transition, this suggests that about 200 former WILG-users will eventually see their packages cut.

He insisted that the government was committed to ensuring that all disabled people are “fully supported to live independently in their communities”.

And he said that Irranca-Davies had visited both Powys and Wrexham councils this week to “see at first hand the work they have been undertaking” and “will be speaking to other authorities about this over the next few weeks”.

The government spokesman said: “He will also be asking authorities to undertake a deep dive of a sample of cases where there have been significant changes in the type of support people are receiving, to establish the reasons for this and ensure they are receiving the appropriate support they require to live independently.

“This is in addition to the ongoing monitoring of the programme, and an additional independent evaluation which has been commissioned by the minister.”

The spokesman claimed that the “feedback from disabled people” on the transition programme had been “positive”.

He said: “Together with our partners in local government and the third sector, we will continue to closely monitor the process and the individual outcomes of the transition from the ILF to the person-centred and co-produced approach to independent living in Wales.”

But Miranda Evans, policy and programmes manager for Disability Wales, said her organisation was “extremely concerned that disabled people with high support requirements are having their hours of care reduced when transferring over to direct payments”. 

She said: “In a number of cases people are losing their ‘socialising’ hours, which is of great concern. 

“This vital support enables people to play a part in their community, volunteer with a local group and get involved in political life. 

“Without this necessary support disabled people will become isolated, disengaged and unable to leave their home.”

Disability Wales has called for an “urgent review” of the Welsh government’s policy and investigations into the differences between how local authorities are applying it, which she said showed “the further development of a postcode lottery”.

She added: “We remain concerned that funding will be absorbed by social services budgets and not be directed to those who need it: disabled people with high support requirements.”

Davies said the Welsh government’s comments showed that “they simply refuse to see the evidence that is staring them in the face”.

He said: “Yet again the Welsh government seems to think of former ILF recipients as a privileged bunch.

“This is not the case at all, as we are disabled people with high care and support needs who were guaranteed a lifetime of adequate support under the old ILF system.

“They do not deserve to be made to feel like a hindrance by the Welsh government.”

He said the conclusions that can be drawn from the freedom of information responses were “very worrying indeed” and show “a shocking lack of consistency between local authorities, the development of a ‘postcode lottery’, the lack of an adequate complaints procedure for former ILF recipients and an alarming lack of security, or guarantees, for the future”. 

Davies is determined to persuade the Welsh government to keep the current system, which allows former ILF-recipients some security by receiving funding from three different “pots”: WILG, local authorities and their own personal contributions.

He said: “The responses reflect why we started the campaign three years ago and give weight to our belief that the tripartite system of care needs to be maintained.

“Disabled people with high care and support needs simply cannot rely on cash-strapped local authorities to provide the levels of care that they need. 

“One of my biggest concerns is that even the local authorities who have increased a majority of care packages cannot guarantee that these packages will remain at the same levels in future years.

“It is a concern that these generous increases may only be put in place for a year, while the local authorities sharpen their axes for further cuts once the campaign is over.” 

He added: “The Welsh government now need to listen to the voices that have supported our campaign – assembly members, MPs, Disability Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, celebrities such as Ken Loach and most importantly their own members who passed a motion calling on them to #SaveWILG at the Welsh Labour conference in April 2018.” 

*The Welsh government press office was unable to confirm by 1pm today that this means that their support hours have been reduced

Letter from David J Rowlands, AM #SaveWILG

Below I have copied a letter from David J Rowlands, AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee. That should be of interest to all WILG recipients and their families. 
 

 8 August 2018 

 

Dear colleague, 

 Petition P-05-771 Reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and support disabled people to live independently  

The Petitions Committee is considering the following petition, which was received from Nathan Lee Davies having collected 631 signatures: 

 I am a recipient of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and a disability activist who intends on asking Welsh Government to reconsider their decision to close WILG as of April 2019.  

The WILG was introduced to help people who previously claimed from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed in 2015. More  than 1,500 people are helped by the scheme across Wales. Recipients all  have high degree of care and support needs. 

It was due to run until the end of March 2017, but Social Services Minister Rebecca Evans said in November that funding would continue for another year. 

 The annual £27m fund will then transfer directly to local authorities during 2018-19 so they can meet the support needs of all former ILF recipients by 31 March 2019. 

 Additional information: 

Why we oppose this decision: 

 The Welsh Government said the decision was taken on stakeholder advice. The majority of representatives on the stakeholder group were third sector or citizens. But they didn’t want WILG scrapped and the key point is that our advice was not accepted. 

 It should also be remembered that closure of WILG is not inevitable as is proved through the formation and success of the Scottish Independent Living Fund; which also works to support the Northern Ireland ILF. 

 Furthermore, the hugely popular Labour Party Manifesto outlined plans to set up a national care system to exist independently of local authorities. 

 This is exactly the time that the Labour Party should be united on such issues against the Tories. We must question why Welsh Labour are not playing their part in the changing political landscape? 

 Indeed, eventually it should be our aim to set up an Independent Living Fund for Wales so that no disabled person should have to suffer the same uncertainty and isolation as WILG recipients are now experiencing. We can only begin to believe that true social justice and equality for all is possible if Welsh Labour revisit their WILG decision. 

 Welsh Labour will no doubt argue that we should give the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act a chance to succeed. However, this idealistic act needs hefty investment and resources to ensure it is a success – with no sign of any of the necessary improvements to our infrastructure that the success of the Act depends on. This may indeed be the time for a revolutionary change in the way social care is delivered, but such a transformation could take a decade or more and WILG recipients do not deserve to be treated like guinea pigs when their high care and support needs require long-term stability and structure. 

 Most recently, the Committee held evidence sessions with the petitioner and the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care. Details of all the evidence received to date can be found here: http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=19785&Opt=3 

 The Committee has agreed to seek the views of others who may have a perspective on the petition and the decision to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant from March 2019. 

 We would therefore be extremely grateful to receive any views you have in relation to the following issues (or any other matters which you feel are relevant): 

  • The Welsh Government’s decision to transfer funding for the Welsh Independent Living Grant to local authorities. 
  • The potential benefits or problems which may arise from supporting WILG recipients through local authority social care provision in the future. 
  • The current transition process, including assessment by local authorities, and any feedback from WILG recipients. 
  • If you (or your organisation) was involved in the work of the ILF stakeholder advisory group, your experience of this process and the extent to which the group’s deliberations and final recommendation reflected the views of members. 
  • Any alternative approaches that you believe should have been taken by the Welsh Government, or any changes which should be made at this stage. 
  • Any other views or comments that you have in relation to the petition. 

I would be grateful if you could provide any response which you wish to make by e-mail to the clerking team at SeneddPetitions@assembly.walesif possible by Friday 14 September 2018. 

Please feel free to share this letter with others who you feel would have views to share on any of the above. 

Responses are typically published as part of our Committee papers and will be discussed at a future Committee meeting. 

 Yours sincerely 

 David J Rowlands AM Chair 

 

 

We need people power to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant #SaveWILG

ARTICLE TAKEN FROM MORNING STAR

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

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CARE for disabled people who live on their own was jeopardised by the Tories in 2015 when they scrapped the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

The scheme helped people who had both day and night care needs and who were getting the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.

In England, the funds were given directly to local authorities, but in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the money was transferred to the devolved governments.

Scotland and Northern Ireland set up their own ILF systems and Wales created the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) as an interim measure while a consultation took place.

In November 2016, the Welsh government announced that it would be closing WILG and giving the money directly to local authorities through the Revenue Support Grant.

Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant’s (SaveWILG) Nathan Lee Davies says it means the money will not be “ring-fenced” and is concerned that councils can spend the money “in whatever way they choose,” meaning disabled people’s needs could be overlooked.

“As a recipient, I do not believe that all the options were seriously considered,” he says.

“Disabled people and their families have been let down by the Welsh government who cannot be allowed to wash their hands of their responsibility to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“WILG is a grant that needs improvement, but we are hoping to save it in order to preserve the remnants of the ILF.”

The campaign group, as titled, aims to save the WILG and allow disabled people with high care and support needs to live the lives that they choose with adequate support.

Davies says: “It is important that we keep hold of the triangular system that was so successful during the ILF years when packages of care were designed in between recipients, local authorities and independent organisations.

“The final care package could be only be agreed and finalised when all three parties were in agreement.

“Disabled people cannot afford to depend on cash-cutting local authorities. Once we have ensured the future of WILG our next steps would be to improve it.”

SaveWILG began with a petition and by handing out postcards to members of the public to pose with.

“We managed to get a postcard photo with Ken Loach and comedian Mark Thomas,” says Davies.

“I have been writing letters to the petitions committee at the Welsh Assembly and we recently won a motion at the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno to save WILG.

Unfortunately, AM Huw Irranca-Davies announced that the Welsh government would not be changing its policy following the conference, which Davies says “ignores the will” of members and unions.

The original motion started off at the Wrexham branch of Unite and soon SaveWILG also won the support of Unison.

“The fact that we won the vote so convincingly suggests that other unions also supported us, despite the Welsh executive committee asking Clwyd South to retract the motion,” Davies says.

Davies is working closely with Welsh Labour Grassroots and receives support from the People’s Assembly and Left Unity.

“It was a great day, but we must guard against complacency and finish the job we have started,” he adds.

“The fact that we managed to meet Jeremy Corbyn at conference and get a photograph of him holding a ‘Where there’s a WILG, there’s a way T-shirt’ was also a highlight.”

The campaign is still ongoing and Davies says that he has learnt that “people power” can really make a difference.

He says: “We have a wealth of future events planned, such as protests and marches, and on June 5 we are going to the Senedd to give evidence to the petitions committee.

“We will continue to put pressure on the Welsh government until there is independent living and disability rights.”

There’s No Other Way #SaveWILG

I have thought long and hard about posting this blog after an exhausting trip to Cardiff on Tuesday [June 5th] to meet with Ministers and discuss the future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

It was a very productive day, but one that resulted in much work still to be done along with a conscious effort on my behalf to review, renew and strengthen my aims and objectives for this campaign.

I had to start the day at 03:00 to venture down to Cardiff and meet the Petitions Committee at 10:00 in the Senedd. The committee are very much onside with the objective to save WILG , and Huw Irranca-Davies AM is due to give evidence in response on June 19th. Every minister on the committee is very supportive, and spent some time chatting to me, Adam and Angie following this meeting. A video of our meeting with the Petitions Committee can be viewed here. Our section on the meeting can be viewed after 1Hr 17Min.

We were full of positivity for our next meeting with the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, but he spent the first fifteen minutes on the defensive and stated why the Welsh Government would be “standing firm” on their commitment to scrap WILG, and pass all responsibility for social care to local authorities. We all chipped in, but Adam Samuels was particularly effective in getting his point across, leading to HID asking Adam to ” calm down”. I don’t think Huw liked being spoken to by a confident person who was in possession of some convincing arguments about money and neo-liberalism.

HID had to leave early to support Carwyn Jones answering First Minister questions. You would have thought Carwyn was big enough to face these questions alone, #justsaying.

We were then left speaking to Gareth Griffiths, the Special Policy Advisor to HID. This was a positive and constructive conversation. We appreciated his points and vice versa. There could be areas to work towards a special compromise here, as Mr Griffiths struck a pragmatic and concilliatory tone. He advised me to send him all of the information that we have at our disposal, which shows that local authorities do not have a clear grasp on the transition process. We will also be submitting evidence of individuals who have suffered dramatic cuts in their levels of care, and the success of other schemes such as the Scottish ILF.

This was followed by positive meetings with both Mark Drakeford AM and Julie Morgan AM. Now is the time to let the information gleaned from these meetings sink in, and wait to see what happens at the Petitions Committee meeting in a couple of weeks. However, anyone who knows me will realise that I am not built to remain silent, and action must be taken immediately, in an appropriate and decisive manner.

I have been lying awake most of the night, since returning from Cardiff and it was during these frustrating hours that I discovered what we must do. All talk of compromise should be rejected. We have been running a hugely successful campaign, that has gained much momentum. Now is the time to use the soft power we have collected, in a positive manner, and keep on campaigning. It is essential that we do so, because the fight to save WILG is vital to disability rights across the UK. We owe it to our friends in England and the 1,300 recipients [though this has gone down to 1,250 according to the latest figures quoted by the Welsh Government].

The fact that i qualify for extra hours of care and support is not something that i am particularly happy about, but it is a fact that i require extra help to get the most out of my limited life. My desire for extra care is not motivated by greed at all, simply NEED. I do not need or expect to see “every penny piece” of the £27 million given to the Welsh Government to provide full Social Care to former ILF recipients. I would gladly see a fraction of this money being spent on administration so that we had a independent social worker to turn to rather than complete reliance on local authorities.

Former ILF recipients who currently receive WILG, have already been through an assessment process to prove that they have a certain level of care and support needs to be eligible for special treatment. Why should this certainty be pulled from underneath them in a cruel and callous manner? 

HID keeps saying that 400 WILG recipients have already made the transfer to direct payment, and some of these have received more hours of care. They are still at the mercy of underfunded local authorities and even though the Welsh Government promised to keep an eye on this, I cannot see this happening once the transition period has ended.

I was worrying about all of this last night. At 3.00 I woke up needing the loo. I use a bottle beside my bed that I had already filled with urine before waking up again. I struggled for 30 minutes to pick up  my full urinal, with my spasticated hands, through fear of spillage. When I finally managed to move the urinal in to position, I had already lost some of the contents of my bladder  on to the mattress. I had to remain on my wet mattress until help arrived at 9.00am. Try telling me that I don’t deserve 24 hour care, something that my own social worker told me that I would have “no chance” of getting from Wrexham Council, as “no one in Wrexham gets that amount of care”.

I should also note that I do not believe that I am in a good mental place to be going through the stresses and strains of another social care reassessment. It is totally needless and uncalled for, but it could save Wrexham Council a few pennies and we must remember that they need to find some spare cash to give the councillors another pay rise, and the latest iPads. I shouldn’t really complain.

I don’t see why we can’t protect people with high care and support needs, by noting all of the problems in this transition period and extending it indefinitely for at least 1,250 people. We should also allow this scheme to be open to others with high care and support needs, who need the guarantee of adequate support that local authorities alone just cannot provide. After bringing the campaign so far, I have certainly got no intention of cosying up to Wrexham Council. Someone has got to put their neck on the line for the sake of disabled rights in the UK, it may as well be me. I want to show the authorities up for what they really are.

I would also ask, yet again, for full access again to the consultation papers that were sent out to recipients. The Welsh Government have previously tried to fob us off with a mere summary that they have produced. This is not what we are asking for as we are only to aware that a summary document can be edited to suit the views of the Government. It does appear that the consultation was not adequately considered and that a decision to scrap WILG had been made before the consultation process even started. It also seems highly unusual that no minutes exist from the stakeholder group meetings.

I am not asking for the moon on a stick, just the chance to play the game of life on a level playing field. In turn, this would give Welsh Labour the opportunity to create some positive PR [at a time when they need it], and show that politicians can show some humility and humanity.

The fight continues …