Disability Rights UK

Open letter to Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies #SaveWILG

Following the BBC Wales Live programme last night, I took it upon myself to write an open letter to Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies 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
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff
CF99 1NA

10 May 2018

Dear Huw Irranca-Davies

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 your assertion 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 you should provide evidence in support of your 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.

Yours sincerely

Nathan Lee Davies
Disabled Activist and Author
@nathanleedavies
https://www.facebook.com/SaveWILG/
https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/

Open letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones #SaveWILG

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
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff
CF99 1NA

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.

Yours sincerely

Nathan Lee Davies
Disabled Activist and Author
@nathanleedavies
https://www.facebook.com/SaveWILG/
https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/

Fighting for independent living in Wales

ASSISTANCE NEEDED FROM PEOPLE ASSISTED BY ILF IN SCOTLAND OR NORTHERN IRELAND. PLEASE READ ON FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

ADAPTED FROM Disability Rights UK Factsheet F698

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was a, Government funded, discretionary scheme which helped people who had both day and night care needs and who were getting the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance. Those helped under the scheme were able to receive a joint ILF/local authority funded care support package to help them live independently in the community rather than in residential care.

The UK-wide Independent Living Fund (ILF) has now been closed since 1 July 2015.

In England, local authorities are responsible for care provision rather than the ILF.

Meanwhile, disabled people in Scotland receive help from a new Scottish Independent Living Fund from ILF Scotland.  Northern Ireland have also set up their own ILF administered by Scotland.

In Wales we are clouded in uncertainty with the temporary Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) which is due to run until April 2017 – depending on confirmation beyond March 2016.

I have teamed up with a friend of mine – Sheila Meadows OBE – to launch a campaign to try to protect independent living in Wales by ensuring that when WILG finally expires it is replaced by something similar to what has been established in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We certainly don’t want the Welsh government to follow the lead of England by giving funds for Independent Living to local authorities.  Councils are already under extreme financial pressures and the concern is that funds meant for the benefit of disabled people would be used in other areas such as education, transport or maintenance.

Therefore, I would like to ask disabled people, their families and carers in Scotland and Northern Ireland for their opinions and experiences of the new ILF packages they receive.  How was the transition from the ILF to the new Scottish administered system? Did you need to be reassessed to qualify for the fund? Have you had a reduction in your hours of care/work?  Have you experienced any glitches in the new system or is it as dependable as the former ILF?  Do you now have long term security? Has there been an increase or decrease in your personal contribution to the fund?

The answers to questions such as these would be central to our fight to create a similar system and sense of security in Wales.  Any help that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  You can email me via the form on the Contact page, or tweet me at @nathanleedavies

ANY INFORMATION SHARED WILL BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY.

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

FURTHER READING

http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/149987/our-fight-to-fund-independent-lives-in-flintshire-and-wrexham.aspx#.VZu96zMTWf4.twitter

http://www.independentlivingfund.scot/

http://www.independentlivingfund.scot/northern-ireland-independent-living-fund/