Disability Wales

Changes to Non-residential Social Care Charging

I have just received a second email of the day from Disability Wales, about charges for non-residential social care. While it is worrying that the maximum personal weekly contribution has been raised from £90 to £100, I am hoping that the majority of local authorities can clearly see that the majority of disabled people in Wales, could not afford such an eye-watering figure.

I urge anyone negatively impacted by this increase, to get in touch with Disability Wales.

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Dear Members

As of 6 April 2020 changes came into effect which updated some of the arrangements by which local authorities are able to charge for the social care and support they provide or arrange. These changes were introduced by amendments to the regulations and code of practice governing charging under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

The changes included an increase in the Maximum Weekly Charge applicable in non-residential charging from £90 to £100 per week. The capital limit applicable in non-residential care charging remains at £24,000 and the savings disregards remain unchanged.

While the increase to a maximum charge of £100 was long planned, it has been implemented at a very challenging time for anyone receiving social care. We are hearing reports from members that some are not getting their full package of support for a range of reasons related to the Coronavirus emergency.

We have raised our concerns about the increase in charges with Welsh Government, however it would strengthen our discussions with Ministers and officials, if we can provide more information about how it is affecting people around Wales. We’d be grateful if you can let us know the following:

  • Have your social care charges increased since 6th April and if so by how much?
  • Are you getting the full package of services as agreed in your assessment?

Any information you provide will be treated in confidence and anonymised in any communications with Welsh Government.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks

Rhian

Rhian Davies

Chief Executive/Prif Weithredydd

Update: Coronavirus and the Rights of Disabled People in Wales

A positive email to start the week from Rhian Davies of Disability Wales. I am really thankful that I live in Wales and have Mark Drakeford as First Minister, especially as blundering Boris is reportedly planning to prematurely lift the lockdown as early as this week. This will undoubtedly lead to more Coronavirus related deaths, but that’s the Tories for you…

I feel much safer in Wales with Drakeford’s traffic light system to come out of lockdown. This is a much more sensible approach that seems to be people centred rather than doing what is best for the economy. You can read more about Drakeford’s traffic light approach by clicking here.

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Dear Members

I hope that you are keeping safe and well. Following publication of the Wales Disability Reference Group’s statement on 8 April regarding Coronavirus and the Rights of Disabled People in Wales, more than 1400 individuals and organisations joined Disability Wales, Learning Disability Wales, Wales Council of the Blind and Wales Council for Deaf People in supporting our Statement:

https://www.ldw.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-and-the-rights-of-disabled-people-in-wales/

I am pleased to inform you that since publication, Welsh Government has implemented the following actions:

Many thanks for your vital support in ensuring that our voice is heard. We trust that members will find reassurance in this guidance given such worrying times. Please share widely with your friends, family and members. We will also upload these documents to our website for future reference.

I represent Disability Wales on the Covid 19 Moral and Ethical Advisory Group for Wales and welcome hearing about the experiences of members regarding these matters to help inform and influence the work of the Group.

Stay safe

Rhian

Rhian Davies
Chief Executive/Prif Weithredydd

 

Covid-19 and the Rights of Disabled People in Wales

I just received this email from Disability Wales that I believe everyone should take interest in to ensure disabled people are treated fairly and equally should they contract Coronavirus. Please read the email below and sign and share the statement below.

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Dear Members

We have published a joint statement with Learning Disability Wales, Wales Council of the Blind and Wales Council for Deaf People regarding the principles that should inform the treatment available to disabled people in the event of contracting Coronavirus Covid-19.

These are difficult and challenging times for the NHS in Wales however it is critical that everyone involved in providing treatment to disabled people is guided by the following principles:

  • Our individual chance of benefiting from treatment should we have coronavirus (COVID-19) must not be influenced by how our lives are valued by society.
  • Where we have existing health conditions or impairments that are unrelated to our chance of benefiting from treatment, they must not play any part in decision-making regarding our equal right to access such treatment.
  • The fact that we might have significant levels of social care and support needs, or that we may do so in future as a result of the pandemic, should not make health staff think that we will not benefit from treatment.
  • We have the right to be fully involved in decisions about our own lives, including life and death decisions. Decisions should never be made without our involvement, or consideration of our best interests. There is no justification for policies based on age or disability that do not treat each of us with respect and as individuals.
  • We all, and our advocates, have the right to know about decisions that may be made about us that will affect us.
  • Guidelines on the assessment, provision, and evaluation of treatment and care provided to individuals during the coronavirus (Covid—19) pandemic must be developed in collaboration with disabled people’s organisations and representatives from human rights bodies.

Please share and sign up to the statement:

https://www.ldw.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-and-the-rights-of-disabled-people-in-wales/

Keep safe and well

Rhian Davies

Chief Executive/Prif Weithredydd

Disability News Service: CV-19 – Anger over ‘terrifying and discriminating’ intensive care guidance

The following article was taken from the excellent Disability News Service website, and written by John Pring. The original article can be viewed by clicking on this link. I recommend this site to all disabled people during the coronavirus crisis and beyond, as a dependable source of information. 

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New guidance for the NHS on which coronavirus patients should receive intensive care treatment has heightened fears among activists that many disabled people will be refused lifesaving treatment if they are admitted to hospital.

The guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that all adult COVID19 patients should be assessed for “frailty” when admitted to hospital, and that “comorbidities and underlying health conditions” should be taken into account.

Following alarm and outrage from disabled people and allies, the government body announced late yesterday (Wednesday) that it had produced an updated guideline.

But the new version has not eased all those concerns, with one disability campaigner warning that disabled people who need support would still be less likely to receive critical care if the guideline was followed and one grassroots group of disabled people saying that it was “not reassured” by the amendments.

It was the use of the CFS “frailty” scoring system that caused most alarm, with the guideline suggesting that those with a score as low as five – those seen as “mildly frail”, who often need help with transportation, heavy housework and medication (nine represents someone who is terminally ill) – might not be considered appropriate for critical care and might be steered towards end-of-life care instead if their condition deteriorated.

The guideline said that decisions to admit patients for “critical care” should be based on how likely they were to recover.

Among those raising concerns about the original version of the new guidance was disabled actor and activist Liz Carr.

She said on Twitter that the guideline suggested she and many other disabled people would be “pretty much denied [the] same access to ventilation/critical care support as non-disabled people based on the fact we require some assistance in our daily life, because we’re disabled”.

She said this was “terrifying and discriminating”.

When NICE said it was “very aware of the concerns of some patient groups about access to critical care” and that it understood “how difficult this feels”, another disabled activist, Dennis Queen, told the organisation: “It’s not about how we feel –you are denying our human rights.

“We pay [the] same taxes for this disgraceful unequal treatment.”

Another disabled campaigner, Angela Kennedy, said on Twitter: “It’s more than ‘difficult’: it’s justified concern that discrimination against disabled people – because we need support, assistance and reasonable adjustment to live with our disablement – will drive unlawful decisions to refuse us a right to life. Your guidelines caused that.”

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People told Disability News Service (DNS) last night (Wednesday) that it was “alarmed that the government – via the NICE guidance has confirmed that, when there’s competition for beds, the NHS will ration ICU care, so that many disabled people (especially elders) will be denied treatment, based on a scoring system.

“It’s also a much bigger group than those of us being told to protectively self-isolate.”

Mike Steel, from Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL), said his grassroots group of disabled people was “highly concerned” about the NICE guideline, and the manner of its admission that the original version was flawed.

He said: “We have been shown with stark clarity the ease with which denying our most fundamental human right – the right to life –is normalised and reduced to being part of a ‘discussion’.

“We are not reassured by the amendment made to say that younger people and people with ‘stable long-term disabilities’ should not be assessed using the CFS, yet others can be.

“Categorising and dividing disabled and chronically ill people by age or personal care needs in order to decide who gets critical care is ableist and dangerous.

“The reality is, as a direct consequence of years of drastic cuts and a failure to plan by central government, frontline health staff will be put under immense and unfair pressure to make decisions about care.”

He said the guideline appeared to have been drawn up without the input of disabled people, and he added: “When we are excluded from decisions about our lives, not only are mistakes made, our very being is devalued.”

The concerns over the guideline came as more than 60 UN human rights experts, including Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, warned in a statement* that action taken to cope with the COVID-19 crisis must address human rights issues and could not only be solved through public health and emergency measures.

They said: “Everyone, without exception, has the right to life-saving interventions and this responsibility lies with the government.

“The scarcity of resources… should never be a justification to discriminate against certain groups of patients.

“Everybody has the right to health.”

A disabled mother, who tweets at @Whovian242, told NICE on Twitter after the publication of the first version of its guideline: “This morning I read that according to these guidelines if I am assessed based on my care needs I won’t be eligible for critical care.

“With respect your comment ‘we understand how difficult this feels’ feels incredibly dismissive.”

Wheelchair dancer and consultant Shay Erlich added: “You have instituted a widespread tool and unleashed it for clinicians who will be making split second decisions in an overloaded system.

“Saying you have to take this advice in context in these circumstances only assures it won’t be.”

NICE said on Twitter that it accepted that the frailty scoring system was “not perfect” and so it recommended that doctors should “take any decisions about care in conjunction with patients and their carers where possible”.

It also said it welcomed clarification by the NHS Specialist Clinical Frailty Network (SCFN) that the frailty scoring system should not be used to assess certain groups, which it later said were “younger people, people with stable long-term disabilities, learning disabilities, autism or cerebral palsy”.

After publishing the updated guideline last night – following an update on using the CFS by SCFN – NICE said its new version included these clarifications and “the need to consider additional patient factors when interpreting the CFS score”.

The European Disability Forum (EDF), an umbrella organisation of disabled people across Europe, spoke out this week about reports of discriminatory medical guidance for the COVID-19 pandemic.

EDF said it was “extremely worried” about such reports coming from “some countries”.

It later told DNS that it had spoken out due to concerns raised by activists in the UK and other countries, including Sweden and Ireland.

It added: “In countries where healthcare professionals will not be able to provide the same level of care to everyone due to lack of equipment and underfunding of the healthcare sector, medical guidelines need to be non-discriminatory and follow international law and existing ethics guidelines for care in the event of disaster and emergencies.

“These are clear: persons with disabilities cannot be discriminated against.”

An EDF spokesperson added: “We believe that countries need to involve persons with disabilities and their organisations when writing these guidelines.”

Maureen Piggot, a member of EDF’s executive committee, said last night: “I welcome the clarification of the NICE guidelines, but it does not go far enough.

“The UK needs to follow the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabilities and explicitly ensure that there is no discrimination against persons with disabilities – this includes healthcare guidelines that provide equal access to life saving support.”

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) said this week that it was “deeply concerned” about the “eugenicist rhetoric that has been used to suggest that disabled people will have less access to medical treatment and equipment if they fall ill due to or during the pandemic”.

ROFA – whose members are all disabled people’s organisations and include Inclusion LondonDisabled People Against CutsThe Alliance for Inclusive EducationPeople First (Self Advocacy)Sisters of Frida and Equal Lives- called on the government to “ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against in the response to COVID-19”.

The NICE guidance added to concerns raised by last week’s DNS report about an NHS consultant who appeared to suggest in an open letter that he and his colleagues would not attempt to resuscitate many older and disabled people if they became seriously ill with coronavirus.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which runs the hospital where the consultant works, has again refused to clarify his comments.

Instead, it issued a statement in which it said that every individual patient was different and that care plans “will depend on their individual circumstances where the most appropriate treatment will be offered based on their needs”, while it said the letter “was written to show the compassion and care NHS staff can offer during such a difficult period”.

*Here is the first part of the UN statement: “Everyone, without exception, has the right to life-saving interventions and this responsibility lies with the government. The scarcity of resources or the use of public or private insurance schemes should never be a justification to discriminate against certain groups of patients.

“Everybody has the right to health. People with disabilities, older persons, minority communities, indigenous peoples, internally displaced people, people affected by extreme poverty and living in overcrowded settings, people who live in residential institutions, people in detention, homeless people, migrants and refugees, people who use drugs, LGBT and gender diverse persons – these and other groups need to receive support from governments.

“Advances in biomedical sciences are very important to realize the right to health. But equally important are all human rights. The principles of non-discrimination, participation, empowerment and accountability need to be applied to all health-related policies.”

**Sources of information and support during the coronavirus pandemic include the following:

The Department of Health and Social Care

National Survivor User Network

Spinal Injuries Association

COVID Mutual Aid UK

Disability North

Disability Wales

Citizens Advice

 

Coronavirus COVID-19  Disabled People’s Frequently Asked Questions

I thought it would be useful for my Wales-based disabled readers, to read the following FAQs concerning the Coronavirus outbreak. We need all the help and support we can get, so it is important to be armed with information such as this, which was kindly put together by Disability Wales. 

Stay safe everyone.

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Do we have any answers from Welsh government on protections for disabled people who access social care?   

Visits from care or healthcare workers, who would normally come and help with your daily needs or social care, will be able to carry on as normal. But carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus – a high temperature (above 37.8 °C) and/or new and continuous cough. 

You may find this guidance on home care provision useful: COVID-19: guidance on home care provision on GOV.UK 

Will the Coronavirus Bill have any impact on social care in Wales? 

Disability Wales has serious concerns about the implications of the Coronavirus Bill on human rights, especially the rights of specific groups, including disabled people. 

We welcome the UK Government’s amendment to ensure the Corona Virus Bill is to be renewed every six months, given the sweeping nature of the powers. Nevertheless, we remain concerned that the Bill gives Ministers the powers to suspend the key provisions in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 unless services are needed to protect an adult from abuse or neglect or a risk of abuse or neglect. Unlike the suspension of the Care Act (2014) duties in England, there is no express requirement to avoid breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights included. 

We call on the Assembly to take action to protect the lives of many thousands of disabled people by ensuring that no services are withdrawn without undertaking an assessment to verify whether there would be a breach of human rights.  See link to joint statement issued http://www.disabilitywales.org/coronavirus-bill-statement/   

Will carers/disabled people be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) i.e. gloves, aprons, masks? 

Welsh Government are taking steps to enhance the arrangements in Wales for protecting our front-line health and social care staff who are caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. 

As social care has an essential role along with health care in response to COVID-19, PPE will also be released for use by social care providers.   

You can contact your local Direct Payment Support provider who will be able to signpost you to where you can get hold of PPE.  

How are ‘vulnerable’ people in Wales being identified or can they register themselves? 

Identification of those classed as high risk will be done through GP/hospital medical records. 

If you have been identified as being at high risk, you will receive a letter from the Welsh Government setting out the advice and sources of help and support in your local community. If you are employed, this is also proof that you will not be able to go to work while you are shielding and can be shared with your employer. If you are able to, you can work from home, if your job allows it. You will not need to get a fit note from your GP. 

If you need help from the welfare system visit Universal Credit on GOV.UK website. 

If you believe you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.  

Will testing be made available to carers / Personal Assistants and those being supported (disabled people)? 

Welsh Government are aiming to roll out testing beyond the NHS to social care.  They are increasing the capacity to do this.  It won’t happen immediately but it will be introduced in the coming weeks, with significant extra testing being introduced for other key workers including social care providers. 

Those providing social care will be tested if they present Corona like symptoms and they can then be returned to the workplace if the test provides the right result. 

We are yet to hear whether testing will be introduced for those being supported. 

I am unable to get a food delivery slot online at any supermarket what can I do? 

There are many local shops (butchers, greengrocers etc) offering a food delivery service or pick up.  You could try contacting local shops in your area to see is this is available.  

If you are online and use social media you can post to local community pages on Facebook for example, to find out what food delivery services are being provided in your area.   

Another option is to contact your local Community Voluntary Service (CVC) they may know of volunteers or services who could help you.  Here is a link to CVCs across Wales: https://www.gvs.wales/about-us/wcva-county-voluntary-councils-cvcs-and-volunteer-centres-vcs 

Or contact our office on 029 20887325 email: info@disabilitywales.org and we will do our best to look into the options for you, if you are unable to. 

My Carers / Personal Assistants have all called in sick due to Corona like symptoms, what shall I do? 

If you receive support through an agency then contact them straight away to inform them of the situation.  They will be able to advise you. 

If you do not receive support through an agency then contact your local social services to seek advice immediately.   

You can find a link to your local council’s website here: https://www.wlga.wales/welsh-local-authority-links 

I need to order and collect my repeat prescription/s.  What do I do as I’m classed as ‘vulnerable’ and I need to self-isolate? 

Many GP surgeries are restricting access to the surgery itself at this time.  You may have to order your repeat prescriptions over the telephone.  Please telephone your surgery to check what their procedure is during this Coronavirus pandemic.   

Ask family, friends or neighbours for assistance during this time, if this is possible.  In many cases prescriptions are being sent to the nearest pharmacy to people and then deliveries are being made to people’s homes where necessary.  Explain that you are self-isolating and will need someone to deliver your medication to you. 

Make sure you order your repeats in plenty of time.  It may take a little longer than usual to obtain your medications due to the high demand.  However, there is no need to stock on your medication as this can lead to medication shortages.   

Contact your GP and pharmacy to check procedures during 26is time as processes may vary across Wales.     

Useful sources for information: 

Public Health Wales: guidance on social distancing for everyone in Wales including disabled people: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults/#  

Social Care Wales: https://socialcare.wales/news-stories/the-latest-information-on-coronavirus-covid-19 

Dewis Wales: Find local and national organisations that can help you https://www.dewis.wales/ 

All information has been taken from official sources and understood to be correct at time of publishing. 

Disability Wales Press Release #IDDP

Today (Tuesday 3rd) is the International Day of Disabled People and to celebrate Disability Wales have released a series of films as you can see in the following press release. This is followed by a tweet from the Labour Party who used the day to release their Disabled Peoples Manifesto. There will be more about this in subsequent blogs.

I would just like to wish all of my disabled brothers and sisters a happy and active day.

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PRESS RELEASE

International Day of Disabled People

3rd December 2019

#IDDP2019

Disability Wales is marking IDDP 2019 by launching a suite of specially commissioned films funded by Welsh Government featuring disabled people from around Wales sharing their personal take on the theme “the future is accessible”.

 Elin, Joe, Josh, Kevin and Sue speak openly and honestly about the barriers they’ve faced as disabled people, how they’ve dealt with these and what still needs to be done to ensure a more inclusive society. These barriers include low expectations at school, negative attitudes, physical barriers in getting out and about and limited options in achieving independent living.

Importantly the films also celebrate their lives and achievements:  Sue Kent is successfully running her own business; Disability Rights activist Josh Reeves is a regular contributor to BBC Sesh; Joe Powell transitioned from being a care home resident to Chief Executive of All Wales People First; Elin Williams has gained national recognition for her Blog My Blurred World; while Kevin Chunisingh has developed new found talents as an artist: 

Joe: “Leaving care, seeing the bigger world, getting a job, getting a degree which I was    told would never happen……I feel like I’ve hit the big time!”

 Josh: “Going to a mainstream school, I was isolated, I was the only wheelchair user there…..if I didn’t have any issues growing up – in education – I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.”

Disability Wales Chief Executive Rhian Davies said:

“There are believed to be 1 billion disabled people globally, in Wales, disabled people comprise one fifth of the population. Our films show the diversity among disabled people in Wales, the wide array of experiences, achievements, hopes and ambitions but also how society holds people back through lack of access, support and opportunity. Our films seek to challenge stereotypes regarding disabled people as well as strengthen commitment at all levels of society to tackling discrimination and promoting equality and inclusion.” 

The five films, produced on DW’s behalf by Dogma Films will be streamed on our social media platforms throughout IDDP including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

*ENDS*

 

 

 

National Hate Crime Awareness Week

This morning, I received the following email from Disability Wales and I thought it was worth sharing with my readers. If anyone is suffering from disability hate crime, then they shouldn’t feel alone. There is help out there. If this article persuades anyone to take positive action, then it will have served its purpose.

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It’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week 12th – 19th October 2019.  Let’s raise awareness of and tackle Disability Hate Crime!

What is Disability Hate crime?

A disability hate crime is a criminal offence that is motivated by hostility or prejudice based upon the victim’s impairment or perceived impairment.

What type of incidents can be a disability hate incident?

Verbal and physical abuse, teasing, violence, bullying, online abuse, threatening or insulting texts and damage to property all become hate crimes when they’re motivated by prejudice or hate towards someone because they are disabled.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.  Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone considered a friend.

Mate crime

Mate crime is when someone befriends someone with the intention of taking advantage of them.  They pretend to be a friend.   Mate crime is a severely under-reported element of disability hate crime committed against people with learning difficulties, in particular.

People who commit mate crimes are often nice to people ‘their victims’ to start with but then the relationship can become insidious.  They might start to bully their victim, call them horrible names, ask for and steal money from them, physically and/or sexually abuse the person they befriend.

Take a look at the powerful videos produced by Gwent and Newport People First.  These videos are based on real experiences of mate crime.

Mate crime is NOT acceptable!  It is a crime.  If you or anyone you know is experiencing this, please report it.

Reporting a Hate Crime

If you think you have been a victim of hate crime you can call your local police force to report it on:

  • 101 (non-emergency) or
  • 999 (if it is an emergency)

If you do not feel ready to go to the police you can also contact Report Hate Crime Wales today 24/7 365 days a year on 0300 3031 982 you can email them at Hate.CrimeWales@victimsupport.org.uk  or you can report confidentially online.

Treating someone badly because they are disabled is wrong and against the law.  Please don’t suffer in silence, tell someone and report it today!

 Reporting leads to positive outcomes

A mate crime case was referred to Victim Support (VS).  The victim was a disabled person living in sheltered accommodation.  They were befriended by a neighbour who over a period of time received money from them with a promise to repay and also took money from their bank account. The total amount taken was in excess of £17,000.

When they referred to VS, the case was due to be heard in court in three months’ time. They felt “scared to death” about giving evidence in court and the incident had a huge emotional impact on them.

The VS caseworker:

  • Discussed ‘mate crime’ with them and provided emotional support over the telephone for the impact of the mate crime
  • Discussed special measures for the court date
  • Advocated with Witness Care to ensure they were kept updated regarding the trial process and that their wishes were known
  • Referred them for a pre-trial visit, which was later done
  • Advocated with Witness care to apply for taxi’s for the court day due to their alcohol dependency & low income – This was granted by the Crown Prosecution Service
  • Ensured that Witness Care updated them with the sentencing outcome

The client did not have to give evidence in court as the defendant changed their plea to guilty on the day of the trail – They were sentenced to 42 months in prison for 2 counts of fraud. Emotional support was given to the client following this and a personal alarm was provided due to their worries of potential repercussions from the husband of the offender. Safety advice was also given around this issue.

Real case study provided by Report Hate Wales, Victim Support Oct 2019

Victim Support runs the National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre for Wales which is funded by the Welsh Government. They have created a film to help raise awareness of what a hate crime is, the impact hate crimes can have, how to access support and how to report hate crimes.  Watch now: https://youtu.be/CmtnRDXGRuY

Useful reading…

Scapegoat: Why are we failing disabled people by Katherine Quarmby

“A must-read for anyone aiming to tackle disability hate crime!”

Disability News Service: Welsh government ignores social care funding crisis… in independent living action plan #SaveWILG

The following is an article written by John Pring on his excellent Disability News Service website. This can be accessed by clicking here. 

I have been put in a difficult position following the publication of the Welsh Government’s new framework on independent living – Action On Disability – The Right to Independent Living.

I have been extremely critical of this new legislation, but I want to make it very clear that this is a separate issue to my WILG campaign. I will be forever grateful to the Welsh Government for listening to campaigners and acting decisively. Our new First Minister and the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services deserve particular praise for their hard work and determination to protect a vulnerable section of society.

However, I hope both Mark Drakeford and Julie Morgan can appreciate why I  have to speak out against the new framework due to the lack of consideration of social care. I am a proud member of the Labour Party and fully support the vast majority of the party’s policies, but I reserve the right to be critical of specific programmes and will campaign to improve them.

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The Welsh government has completely ignored the social care funding crisis in a new action plan aimed at ensuring disabled people’s right to independent living.

A public consultation process with disabled people and disability organisations led to “multiple calls” for increased social care funding.

But the final version of the Labour government’s framework and action plan on the right to independent living – which includes 55 actions – says nothing about the funding crisis or the need for more spending on adult social care.

This contrasts with its 2013 framework, which it replaces and which included lengthy sections on access to social care, direct payments and personalised support.

In discussing the engagement process, which took place in 2017, with further engagement late last year on a draft version of the framework, the document says: “We heard that cuts to social care provision have led to lower allocations for Direct Payments which means disabled adults and young people are becoming increasingly isolated and impact to their well-being compromised.”

It also admits that there were “multiple calls for increased funding for health and social care” during that process.

But despite those calls, not one of the 55 actions in the plan mentions social care funding, or the need to address the cuts.

Instead, the action plan details wider measures around independent living, including: barriers to employment; recruitment of disabled apprentices; a review of funding for housing adaptations; collecting evidence on disability poverty; and improving access to health services.

It also includes a planned review of the disabled students’ allowance system; a pledge to improve understanding of the social model of disability across the Welsh government; and action on access to public transport.

There is also a pledge to introduce a scheme in Wales to provide financial support for the extra costs of disabled people seeking election to local councils, to match schemes in Scotland and England.

Nathan Lee Davies, a leading disabled campaigner who has helped secure concessions from the Welsh government on the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), said the omission was “bemusing” and appeared to be a “major step backwards”.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government refused to comment on the failure to mention cuts to social care funding in the action plan.

But Jane Hutt, the Welsh government’s deputy minister and chief whip, who has responsibility for equality issues, said in announcing the new framework that “supporting people to live their lives in the way they choose is the right thing to do”.

She said the framework sets out how the government was fulfilling its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

But the failure of the action plan to suggest any measures to address the funding crisis and cuts to support suggests the Welsh government could be in breach of the convention’s article 19.

Article 19 says that governments signed up to the convention should take “effective and appropriate measures” to enable disabled people to live in the community with “full inclusion and participation”.

Despite this omission, the framework pledges to “work for continuous improvement in how Wales fulfils its obligations with regard to [UNCRPD] and the Rights of the Child”.

There is also no mention in the document of ILF, and the Welsh government’s decision to close its interim Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme, which it had been running as a stopgap with UK government transition funding since ILF closed in June 2015.

WILG closed on 31 March 2018, when the £27 million a year funding provided by the UK government to maintain support to former ILF recipients transferred to local authorities in Wales.

Because of the WILG closure, Welsh local authorities are now solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients.

More than 1,200 former ILF recipients will now have their needs met through council funding, while 50 of them have requested an independent assessment of their new support package, a process being funded by the Welsh government following a campaign led by Davies over concerns about post-WILG support.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “The Welsh Independent Living Grant was introduced as an interim measure to support people who received payments from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund which closed in 2015.

“Our new framework focuses on the future of independent living in Wales, and what Welsh government can do to support disabled people going forward.”

Davies said: “On the face of it the new framework that has been introduced by the Welsh government, following a lengthy consultation process, is as bemusing as it was when [the draft version] was originally launched last year.

“It seems as if I wasted my breath at two consultation days as many of the failings of the framework that I highlighted have failed to be addressed in a [document] that does not seem to address the needs of disabled people with high support needs.

“Social care does not seem to be addressed at all. This is an absolutely bizarre situation when discussing a framework supposedly designed to promote independent living for disabled people.

“Not one of the 55 actions in the action plan mentioned social care funding, which is extremely worrying.”

He added: “After achieving success with the #SaveWILG Campaign – where former ILF recipients have been offered the opportunity of an independent assessment if they disagreed with the decision of the local authority, all funded by the Welsh government – it was hoped that this would signal a change in attitude going forward.

“The dynamic brand of 21st century socialism introduced by first minister Mark Drakeford has delivered positive change that deserves to be recognised.”

But he said the new framework and action plan “seems like a major step backwards”.

He added: “It just seems that the socialist values that the Welsh government demonstrated with their reaction to the WILG campaign have not been utilised in the new framework.

“It does not sit well with me to criticise this new [document], but the fact that it seems to blatantly flaunt the UNCRPD article 19 is a major cause for concern.

“It would be very easy for me to ignore this as WILG recipients have now been protected, but as a disabled activist I remain vigilant to the needs of my disabled brothers and sisters across Wales.

“All disabled people with high support needs should be able to access adequate social care and I will not rest until justice prevails for those in need.”

Rhian Davies, chief executive of Disability Wales (DW), who led the national steering group on the framework, welcomed its publication, particularly “the renewed commitment to implementation of the [UNCRPD] and consideration of options to incorporate this and other UN treaties in Welsh law together with a stronger focus on the social model of disability and proposals to tackle the disability employment gap and support disabled people to take up positions in public life.”

But she added: “Some aspects of the action plan are stronger and more developed than others, often in those areas where disabled people have been closely involved in informing and influencing policy.

“With regard to social care, there appear to be relatively few initiatives cited in the action plan compared with other policy areas.

“Key issues raised during the consultation are omitted, including low take-up of direct payments, provision of advocacy services, WILG developments and the impact of austerity on social care as a whole.

“We understand that the action plan is a work in progress so DW will continue to press for these issues to be addressed, including through Welsh government’s Disability Equality Forum which plays a vital role in monitoring implementation of the framework.”

Disability News Service: ‘Delight’ over breakthrough on Welsh independent living scheme closure

The following article is taken from the Disability News Service website and was written by John Pring. I am taking no credit for the writing of this article and urge readers to visit the Disability News Service website. You can do so by clicking here. 

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Disabled campaigners have welcomed measures that aim to address concerns over the imminent closure of the Welsh government’s independent living grant scheme.

Julie Morgan, the deputy minister for health and social services, has written to council leaders to ask for an immediate “pause” in the closure programme and its replacement with a system of council-funded support.

There will now be new independent assessments for any former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme who are unhappy with the new support packages allocated by their local authority.

The new measures came just two weeks after Nathan Lee Davies (pictured), who has led the campaign to save the WILG scheme, sent an 80-page dossier of evidence about the closure to Welsh Labour’s new leader and first minister, Mark Drakeford.

Davies told Drakeford in an open letter accompanying the dossier that closing WILG would leave disabled people with high support needs, like him, “at the mercy of cash-strapped Local Authorities who seem intent on cutting vital support packages across the board with no guarantee that further cuts will not follow”.

He sent his letter with just two months to go until the interim WILG scheme was due to close.

Now Morgan has announced a pause in the transition to the new system.

WILG was set up – with UK government funding – as an interim scheme following the UK government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in June 2015.

The Welsh government is now closing WILG for good and transferring the funding to local councils, and by April the 22 local authorities were due to be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients in Wales.

But in a written statement to assembly members, Morgan said she had considered the evidence and decided there needed to be a “change in direction” because her government’s own review had shown a significant variation in how support packages were being cut by different councils.

Morgan said that all WILG recipients who were unhappy with their new care and support package and would like a second opinion would now be offered an independent assessment.

These assessments will be funded by the Welsh government, which will also pay for any resulting additional hours of support.

The government said that the new assessments would “acknowledge the historical entitlement of former ILF recipients”, while Morgan told assembly members in a written statement that there would be “no financial barrier [so]no-one need have less favourable care and support than they had under ILF”.

Morgan, who praised Davies and his fellow campaigners, said: “It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes to the care and support provided for people previously in receipt of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

“These changes will ensure that is the case and deliver a consistent level of care and support across Wales.

“While the majority of former ILF recipients are receiving the same or more care as they were previously, a significant number have experienced a reduction in hours of support.

“There is also considerable variation in the reductions in support.

“I have therefore written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in the revised arrangements.

“This is a significant change of approach that ensures that the needs of former WILG recipients will be fully met, and that resources are no barrier to a full package of care and support.”

Davies, who was celebrating his birthday on the day of the announcement, said it was “the perfect 42nd birthday gift”.

He said later in a statement: “I would like to place on record my delight at the breakthrough we have made.”

He added: “It is a pleasure to be working with our new first minister Mark Drakeford and his revamped cabinet that differs substantially from the previous regime.

“Welsh Labour have now successfully re-branded themselves and are moving forward with a clear vision of creating a society based on 21st century socialist ideas.

“There is still some work to be done with Welsh Labour on the new arrangements to support disabled people to live independently.

“I am confident that this work will be carried out constructively and add to the ‘clear red water’ that Welsh Labour are once again setting between themselves and Westminster.

“The fact that the party that I am proud to be a member of, has listened and acted appropriately is really encouraging and gives me hope for the future.”

Disability Wales praised Davies’s campaigning work and the Welsh government for “listening and responding to the evidence” and added: “This is really welcome news for Welsh disabled people who had lost vital support after the ILF closed.”

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