Below is a press release sent to me by Mark Isherwood AM who has been very supportive of the #SaveWILG campaign over the last three years. We would like to thank Mark for his continued support which will hopefully benefit all disabled people across Wales.
Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Mark Isherwood AM, has called on the Welsh Government to respond to concerns regarding the scrapping of the Welsh Independent Living Grant which were raised at a meeting in North Wales earlier this month.
The Welsh Government are transferring the Welsh Independent Living Grant to local authorities and many of the estimated 1,300 disabled people in Wales who received the Grant are reporting that their personal care packages have been greatly reduced.
Mr Isherwood has previously described the move as “a betrayal of the right of disabled people to live independently and make their own decisions”.
In yesterday’s Business Statement, he called for an Oral Statement on the grant, stating that he had been asked by attendees of the packed meeting of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Disability, which took place in Wrexham 12 days ago, “to get answers, because time is running out”.
Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood, who is Chair of the Cross Party Group, said:
“We know that when the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was devolved by the UK Government in England to Local Authorities, and in Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland to the respective Governments, that Scotland launched ILF Scotland to ensure recipients have choice and control. Northern Ireland chose to join the Scottish scheme, and disabled people and disabled groups in Wales said they wanted to join it too, but instead the Welsh Government gave the money to local authorities.
“In May last year, we were told in a Written Statement by the Welsh Government that Local Authorities were reporting that most people were receiving similar support to that they’d had with their ILF payments, with no significant issues being raised, but we know, since, there has been extensive coverage of disabled people suffering because of the decisions made.
“A particular point I was asked to raise at the meeting in Wrexham by a packed room of people, many of whom were disabled themselves, was to emphasise this is about the difference between staying in bed or getting out of bed, about having dinner or not having dinner, about having control or being controlled. They said, ‘They just don’t understand the importance of one word to disabled people – independence – and the impact on mental health and well-being, and the ability to interact with society’.
“That’s lived experience, articulated again by Nathan Lee Davies at the meeting in North Wales, who has led the (Save the) Welsh Independent Living Grant Campaign on behalf of recipients of the grant – including himself, but also very many others.
“As we approach the final point on this, when nobody will be left in receipt of Independent Living Grant, will you as a Government, for once, in this case, deliver an oral statement and answer the questions that disabled people across Wales who were in receipt of the ILF are increasingly asking?”
Replying, the Minister for Finance, Rebecca Evans, said the First Minister has asked the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services to review the progress that there’s been to date in terms of moving across to the new system of receiving care and support, to decide what further action might be necessary to ensure that there is a fair outcome for everybody concerned.
She added: “You’ll be aware, of course, of the Deep-Dive Review, which took place to ensure that where there were changes to people’s support it was appropriate and not compromising, in any way, that person’s ability to live independently. I understand that work has been completed, and the review will be shared with the Petitions Committee, and I know that there’ll be opportunities to question the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services on her approach in due course.”