England

Vital Twitter Thread #SaveWILG

This morning I published a vitally important Tweet thread that I hope will capture the attention of those with the power to provide security to the 1,300 disabled people with high support needs throughout Wales who receive the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

I publish memes and photographs alongside these Tweets. If you want to follow me on Twitter and perhaps Retweet my epic thread, my handle is @nathanleedavies

I am currently extremely busy as we head into a crucial month for the #SaveWILG campaign.

The fight continues…

***

The following Tweet thread is VERY IMPORTANT. I trust that ALL Assembly Members and those in the Media with the power to spread awareness of the struggles of disabled people with high support needs will READ THIS in full and take the appropriate action to help us

There can be no denying that the WILG transition process is highlighting some major problems in the social care system throughout Wales. Local authorities cannot be trusted to provide adequate support for disabled people on their own.

The evidence is overwhelming as displayed in the Freedom of Information requests gathered from all 22 LAs, first-hand stories from WILG recipients and clear evidence that the same system is failing people in England.

 The amount of support for #SaveWILG has been incredible. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, MPs, AMs and celebrities such as Ken Loach have all backed our campaign while Welsh Labour members passed a motion at conference to protect the grant.

 A similar motion was also passed by Disability Labour, our friends in Scotland and Northern Ireland also show that there is clearly another way of doing things to protect those with high support needs.

I haven’t even mentioned the UN report which found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled ppls human rights’, saying it was a ‘human catastrophe’. This was partly based on concerns at the closure of the ILF. @WelshLabour are moving in the same direction. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-spending-cuts-human-catastrophe-un-committee-rights-persons-with-disabilities-disabled-a7911556.html …

 I am receiving emails on a daily basis from WILG recipients across Wales telling me about the difficulties they are facing with the transition process. These people are too afraid to speak out due to the fear of reprisals.

 Other recipients are also in the process of taking their LA’s to court and cannot speak out for fear of compromising their case. WILG will not or cannot raise their voice at all – for many reasons such as cognitive impairment, exhaustion or fear of further cuts to their hours.

 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. 

The ‘two-tier’ system is entirely the choice of WAG. Not us or recipients. Again, using this as a reason to stop providing what is needed as a basic starting point, is not a reason!!!

The effect being that money (saving) is at the root of this and the standard of life/living for recipients is not likely to be maintained in a way that allows them to have a really fulsome, fulfilled and rewarding life, rather than merely existing….

 I have spent all day writing this thread of Tweets and have sacrificed three years of my life to this campaign for common justice. I will not stop fighting for the rights of disabled people but it is a disgrace that I have to in 21st Century Wales. 

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

 

BBC Report: Mark Drakeford may overturn Independent Living Fund changes

The following article was published on BBC Wales News Online  and this blogger takes no credit or responsibility for anything written below.

Welsh Labour leadership candidate Mark Drakeford has told supporters he is willing to reverse changes to funding for disabled people if there is evidence they are losing out.

Councils have been put in charge of support for 1,300 former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

But research by BBC Wales found that about 100 people had care packages cut.

Mr Drakeford blamed the UK government for breaking up “that part of the welfare state”.

The money was protected until earlier this year when the Welsh Government scrapped its Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG), and passed the responsibility to councils.

The ILF was provided by the UK government until 2015, when it was transferred to English councils and devolved governments.

Research by the BBC Wales Live programme showed about 100 of the 600 recipients who have been reassessed have had care packages cut.

In response on Wednesday, the minister in charge, Huw Irranca-Davies, said he did not believe there would be any “losers” as a result of changes.

Mr Irranca-Davies has previously said he will not “rethink the policy in its entirety.”

But at a leadership campaign event in Blackwood on Thursday, Mr Drakeford said if an independent evaluation “shows the new system is not working as well as the old one then I would be prepared to reverse it because this is money intended for a very specific number of people for a very specific purpose”.

He blamed the UK government for “breaking up that part of the welfare state”, saying the ILF had “more or less disappeared” in England.

 

“I do understand that people who rely on the Independent Living Fund say to me when it was in a special grant we knew it was there and we had confidence that money would come to us,” Mr Drakeford said.

“The money is the same as it always was and most local authorities I believe are doing a decent job of continuing to hand the money on.

“But we are beginning to pick up information that in some places that is not happening and the money isn’t going to ILF recipients in the way that it would have been last year.”

Huw Irranca-Davies

 

Mr Irranca-Davies had agreed to the evaluation, he said, adding that it would be carried out by someone “who is nothing at all to do with local authorities or the Welsh Government”.

If evidence shows the payments work as well as before “then I think we should carry on with what we are doing now”, Mr Drakeford said.

“But if the evidence is the opposite – that the money isn’t reaching people for whom it is intended – then I think I will be prepared to look again and go back to the system that the recipients of ILF have had confidence in up until now.”

The promise drew applause from a small audience of supporters at the event in Blackwood where Mr Drakeford laid out plans to help the least well-off in society.

He said he would be prepared to set targets to reduce the number of children taken into care and promised he would appoint a cabinet minister responsible for housing.

Campaigner Nathan Lee Davies with Jeremy Corbyn

 

Welsh Labour’s Spring conference passed a motion supporting a campaign to reinstate the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

‘Save WILG’ has been run by Labour member Nathan Lee Davies and has had backing from Welsh Labour politicians and Welsh Labour Grassroots – the Welsh arm of the left-wing Momentum campaign group.

But the Welsh Government has pressed ahead with the transfer of the money and the responsibility to local authorities.

More on this story

 

Progress on Disability Rights in the United Kingdom #SaveWILG

Yesterday, I was alerted to the publication of UK Independent mechanism update report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This is a very illuminating document that shows just how far behind the United Kingdom is slipping in terms of Disability Rights. The sections about Independent Living is of particular interest to me and my comrades as it is critical of the current arrangements that we are having to put up with. It provides yet more evidence of the need to save WILG as well as some worrying news that the Welsh Government are rushing through a new framework on Independent Living for disabled people that is bound to be a huge disappointment to those with high care and support needs. Welsh Labour have proved time and again that they do not want to listen to party members, unions, Labour MP’s, supporters from across the political spectrum or some of their own politicians and are determined to stop WILG.

I am doing everything I can but I am not being listened to at all.  I have been robbed of three years of my life and the effect of this campaign has taken a huge toll on my health.

I will carry on the fight until the bitter end because I believe in what I am fighting for and have no confidence in the Welsh Government – as it stands – to produce a suitable alternative.

The fight continues…

*** 

The section on Wales, reads as follows:

Wales –

The EHRC is concerned that disabled people’s right to independent living may be harmed by the Welsh Government’s decision to potentially merge the Supporting People programme with other budget lines from 2020. Concerns have been raised that disabled people’s rights have been negatively affected when equivalent funding programmes elsewhere in the UK have been lost. 

The report goes on to say the following:

Wales

The Welsh Government has prioritised social care in budget allocations to local
authorities since 2010, most recently through a local government settlement to
maintain the assumed Welsh Government share of core spending at 2017/18 levels
until 2020. The Welsh Government also provides funding that supports social care
duties through the Supporting People programme. This support helps people to live
independently in their own home. The programme has been retained for a further
two years as part of the budget for 2018/19. The programme’s future post-2019 is
unclear, with the Welsh Government potentially merging it with nine other budget
lines, with no ring fencing, causing concern for disabled people. A £60 million
integrated care fund has been introduced, which aims to support people to maintain their independence and remain in their own home. However, there has been a real terms reduction in budgets for social care services of over 12% due to increasing need.

The Welsh Government is currently reviewing its Framework for Action on
Independent Living. After a delay, it is anticipated that the new framework, provisionally entitled ‘Action on disability: The right to independent living’, will now be published in autumn 2018. The new framework will be accompanied by an action plan that will set out a range of actions aimed at tackling some of the key barriers identified by disabled people, including in transport, employment and housing, and access to buildings and public spaces.

I am looking forward to seeing what this new framework for action actually entails. I am preparing to be disappointed as  I always am with shambolic Welsh Labour.

***

The full report on the Right to Independent Living can be seen below:

2. The right to live independently in the community (article 19)

CRPD Committee concluding observations 2017, paragraph 45:

‘The Committee recommends that the State party … : recognise the right to living
independently and being included in the community as a subjective right,
recognise the enforce ability of all its elements, and adopt rights-based policies,
regulations and guidelines to ensure implementation; conduct periodic
assessments in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities
to address and prevent the negative effects of policy reforms through sufficiently
funded and appropriate strategies in the area of social support and living
independently; … [and] allocate sufficient resources to ensure that support
services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable, adaptable and are
sensitive to different living conditions for all persons with disabilities in urban and
rural areas.’

Summary of progress

There has been limited progress on the UK governments’ implementation of the
CRPD Committee’s recommendations concerning disabled people’s right to live
independently in the community. Appropriate social care packages and accessible
housing are two of the cornerstones of independent living. There have been some
promising developments in Scotland and Wales in relation to certain funding streams
to support independent living. However, as set out below, there is also evidence that
social care, particularly adult social care, is at crisis point across the UK and there is
a chronic shortage of accessible homes.

Progress on disability rights in the United Kingdom 

Key concerns

UK

The right to live independently in the community is not recognised as a statutory right
in the UK and there do not appear to be any plans to change this.
The increasing demand, along with reduced funding, for social care, particularly adult
social care, may be leading to a regression in disabled people’s article 19 rights to
live independently in the community. The shortage of accessible and adaptable
homes, and long delays in making existing homes accessible, also has a detrimental
effect on the right to live independently.

England

The EHRC is concerned that, in England, the closure of the Independent Living Fund
and the devolution of this function to local authorities, without ring-fencing finance for
this purpose, has resulted in a postcode lottery for support.

Wales

The EHRC is concerned that disabled people’s right to independent living may be
harmed by the Welsh Government’s decision to potentially merge the Supporting
People programme with other budget lines from 2020.
Concerns have been raised that disabled people’s rights have been negatively
affected when equivalent funding programmes elsewhere in the UK have been lost.

Northern Ireland

The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, while enacted, continues to have
no clear time frame for its commencement.

In Northern Ireland, the Independent Living Fund is administered by the Independent
Living Fund Scotland, but restricted to existing users leading to its eventual defacto
closure, and with no clear indication of future arrangements.

Scotland

Despite positive policy intentions, significant questions remain regarding the
implementation of Self-directed Support and access to adult social care.

New evidence

Great Britain

The EHRC’s inquiry into housing for disabled people across Great Britain (GB),
published in May 2018, found that disabled people face a shortage of accessible and
adaptable homes and long delays in making existing homes accessible. Disabled
people are not getting the support they need to live independently as the provision of
advice, support and advocacy is patchy, and people report that they have nowhere
to turn when their housing is unsuitable. The EHRC’s survey of local authorities
found that just over a quarter (28%) of local authorities in GB set a percentage target
for accessible housing.

 In England, only 7% of homes offer minimal accessibility features.

 In Scotland, 55% of councils said a lack of funding for adaptations was a
challenge, and only 24% said the data they hold about disabled people’s
housing requirements were ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

 In Wales, only 5% of local authorities have a target in place for accessible
housing, and only 15% said that disabled people’s housing needs are subject
to specific discussion or scrutiny when conducting a local housing market
assessment.

Progress on disability rights in the United Kingdom

England
Spending for adult social care in England was budgeted to be 3% lower in 2017/18
than in 2009/10. As the population has grown over this period, this is equivalent to
9% lower per person, according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social
Services (ADASS). This means ‘fewer older and disabled people with more complex
care and support needs getting less long-term care’.

In March 2018, the EHRC started legal action against 13 clinical commissioning
groups because their NHS Continuing Healthcare policies restricted funding and
failed to account for individual circumstances. This may force disabled people into
residential care when their preference is to remain at home.

Research by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that nearly two-thirds of placements in residential-based mental health rehabilitation services are ‘out of area’, and very lengthy. This means that individuals are usually placed far away both from home and from the local support services that should care for them once they have been discharged. The CQC has also reported that some patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 continue to experience care that does not fully protect their rights or ensure their well-being. For example, there have been no improvements in involving patients in developing their care plans, and in making sure their views are considered in care decisions.

Northern Ireland
There is an absence of information on the extent to which disabled people with
substantive needs, who are not existing Independent Living Fund users, are having their needs met through the Self-directed Support and direct payment provisions. Furthermore, direct payments do not fund many of the activities funded by the
Independent Living Fund, leading to less support and control.

Indicator 42 of the draft ‘programme for government’ considers the average life
satisfaction score of disabled people. The Department for Communities has
acknowledged that the comprehensive dis-aggregated data required to support
indicator 42 is lacking. The department has conducted a scoping study to identify
existing data, which recommended that a new Northern Ireland disability survey is
required. The department is exploring options for such a survey, but, due to the
additional resources required to conduct the survey, ministerial approval is required.
With the continued suspension of the Northern Ireland devolved government, it is
currently not possible to obtain the required approval.

Relevant steps taken by UK governments

England

Since 2015, the UK Government has allocated additional funding to local authorities
for adult social care through the adult social care precept, the Better Care Fund
and a commitment to fund an adult social care support grant. However,
stakeholders, including ADASS, conclude that even these recent increases may not
be enough to address the funding crisis in adult social care.

In March 2017, the Conservative Government announced a green paper on social
care in England, and a public consultation. The publication of the green paper, which
will focus on older people, has been delayed until the end of 2018. It is unclear whether it will address issues that are faced by working-age disabled people in
relation to social care, and whether disabled people will be explicitly consulted.

England and Wales

The independent review of the MHA 1983 published its interim report in May 2018,
providing details of the issues the review is examining.These include the rising
rates of people being detained under the act and inappropriate and/or long-term
placement of people with learning disabilities and/or autism in psychiatric hospitals
because community support services are unable to meet their needs. The EHRC
hopes that the review will make recommendations that result in fewer people facing
compulsory detention and more people living independently in places or with people
of their choosing.

Wales

The Welsh Government has prioritised social care in budget allocations to local
authorities since 2010, most recently through a local government settlement to
maintain the assumed Welsh Government share of core spending at 2017/18 levels
until 2020. The Welsh Government also provides funding that supports social care
duties through the Supporting People programme. This support helps people to live
independently in their own home. The programme has been retained for a further
two years as part of the budget for 2018/19. The programme’s future post-2019 is
unclear, with the Welsh Government potentially merging it with nine other budget
lines, with no ring fencing, causing concern for disabled people. A £60 million
integrated care fund has been introduced, which aims to support people to maintain
their independence and remain in their own home. However, there has been a real
terms reduction in budgets for social care services of over 12% due to increasing
need.

The Welsh Government is currently reviewing its Framework for Action on
Independent Living. After a delay, it is anticipated that the new framework provisionally entitled ‘Action on disability: The right to independent living’, will now be
published in autumn 2018. The new framework will be accompanied by an action
plan that will set out a range of actions aimed at tackling some of the key barriers
identified by disabled people, including in transport, employment and housing, and
access to buildings and public spaces.

Northern Ireland

The draft programme for government indicator 42 includes a commitment to
increase take-up of Self-directed Support and direct payments. However, a final plan
has yet to be approved in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.
Concerns have been raised that Self-directed Support does not suit everyone, that
too much control is given to the health trusts, and that the support given is not
enough to be used for more than the individual recipient’s basic needs.

In the absence of an approved programme for government, the Northern Ireland
Executive Office has developed a 2018/19 outcomes delivery plan that reflects the
responsibilities placed on departments by the previous NI Assembly and Northern
Ireland Executive, and sets out actions that the departments can take without further
ministerial approval. Outcomes 8 (care and help for those in need) and 9 (a shared,
welcoming and confident society that respects diversity) include a commitment to
improve quality of life for disabled people. The identified actions for fulfilling these
outcomes include ensuring that 8% of new social homes are wheelchair accessible,
introducing opportunities for 200 new NI athletes in the Special Olympics, and
improving understanding of British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.
Progress will be measured every six months, using a number of indicators set out in
the draft programme for government, including indicator 42. Questions have been
raised in particular regarding the plans for new accessible social homes and whether
an 8% target for new accessible social homes is reflective of demand. It has also
been questioned whether the new accessible social homes will be provided in a way
that addresses the demand in rural and urban areas.

Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced funding for 31 projects delivering direct
and local independent support across 31 local authority areas, through the Support
in the Right Direction 2021 programme. Funding will be provided between October
2018 and March 2021, with the aim of ensuring that more people across Scotland
who require social care are empowered to make choices about their support.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that by 1 April 2019 it will extend free
personal care to all those under the age of 65 who require it, regardless of their
condition.

Ombudsman Report Highlights Post-ILF Struggle for Justice #SaveWILG

The following text can be found on the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman website and was sent to me by one of my comrades who will be contextualising the article for WILG recipients in Wales. As soon as she does I will share this with you but I thought it may be of interest for people to read the whole, harrowing story.

This is a case of a former ILF recipient who had to jump through hoops to force his Council (London Borough of Waltham Forest) to give him the care and support that he obviously needed. Although this former ILF recipient is based in England and therefore under a different legal jurisdiction, there are many similarities in our cases and determination to ensure justice is being served.

Hopefully, things won’t come to this for myself, but if they do I will be showing the same spirit to fight to the end. This has been a really good weekend with Wrexham AFC winning convincingly at the Racecourse and Welsh Labour falling into line with the rest of the Labour Party and agreeing to elect their next leader using OMOV (One Member One Vote).

The tide is turning and although we still have an uphill struggle on our hands I will move into the latter stages of the #SaveWILG campaign with renewed belief and energy.

***

The Ombudsman’s final decision:

Summary: The Council was at fault in its reassessments of the complainant, after his Independent Living Fund had been withdrawn. The Council agreed to appoint an independent social worker to review the complainant’s needs and this has resulted in the Council significantly increasing the complainant’s care hours. The Ombudsman is satisfied that this resolves the complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complaint is made on behalf of the complainant by a Legal Rights Officer. I will call the complainant Mr X and the Legal Rights Officer as Mr Y.
  2. Mr X complained that the Council failed to assess him properly following the ending of the Independent Living Fund in 2015. Mr X says the Council cut his support considerably. As a result, Mr X has not had all his assessed needs properly met by the Council.
  3. In particular Mr Y was concerned that the Council was using the old, pre Care Act 2014 banding system regarding eligibility, that the Council failed to involve Mr X in the care and support planning process, that the Council failed to adequately account for the reduction in Mr X’s budget and that there were arbitrary caps to the level and care available.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)

   How I considered this complaint

  1. I have obtained written information from Mr Y and from the Council. I have also spoken to Mr Y on the telephone and more recently to Mr X. The Council has also provided written comments and regular updates.

What I found

  1. The Care Act 2014 came into effect in April 2015. It replaced the previous Fair Access to Care Services (FACS). The Care Act 2014 aimed to create parity between local authorities in how need and support was assessed.
  2. Section 1 of the Care Act creates a new statutory principle to promote the adult’s well being. Section 13 requires a council to determine whether a person has eligible needs after they have carried out a needs assessment or a carer’s assessment.

   Care Act 2014 assessments

  1. Sections 9 and 10 of the Care Act 2014 require local authorities to carry out an assessment of any adult who appears to need care and support. They must provide an assessment to all people regardless of their finances or whether the local authority thinks an individual has eligible needs. The assessment must be of the adult’s needs and how they impact on their wellbeing and the results they want to achieve. It must also involve the individual in the assessment and, where suitable, their carer or any other person they might want involved.
  2. The Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014 set out the eligibility threshold for adults with care and support needs. The threshold is based on identifying how a person’s needs affect their ability to achieve relevant outcomes, and how this impacts on their wellbeing. To have needs, which are eligible for support, the following must apply:
    • the needs must arise from or be related to a physical or mental impairment or illness; and
    • because of these needs, the adult must be unable to achieve two or more of the following outcomes:
  • managing and maintaining nutrition;
  • maintaining personal hygiene;
  • managing toilet needs;
  • being appropriately clothed;
  • being able to make use of the adult’s home safely;
  • maintaining a habitable home environment;
  • developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships;
  • accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering;
  • making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services; and
  • carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.
  1. To be eligible for support, not achieving those outcomes must be likely to have a significant impact on the adult’s well-being.
  2. Where the Council decides a person has eligible needs, it must meet these needs. When the Council decides a person is or is not eligible for support it must provide the person with a copy of its decision.
  3. The Council must provide a care and support plan which considers:
    • What the person has
    • What they want to achieve
    • What they can do by themselves or with existing support
    • What care and support may be available in the local area.
  4. The support plan includes a personal budget which is the money the Council has worked out it will cost to arrange the necessary care and support for that person. The personal budget gives the person clear information about the money allocated to meet the needs identified in the assessment and recorded in the plan. The detail of how the person will use their personal budget will be in the care and support plan.
  5. The personal budget must always be an amount enough to meet the person’s eligible care and support needs. It can be administered by the Council, by a third party, or as a direct payment. Direct payments enable people to commission their own care and support to meet their eligible needs. The Council must consider requests for direct payments made at any time and have clear and swift procedures in place to respond to them.
  6. Eligibility determination must be made after the needs assessment. Councils still have the power to meet needs that are not considered eligible in order to help maintain wellbeing and independence. Councils should consider risk factors which can include physical safety.

Reviews

  1. The Council should consider reviewing the care and support plan six to eight weeks after agreeing it, and then review it at least every 12 months. The Council must also conduct a review if the adult or a person acting on the adult’s behalf asks for one. (Care Act 2014, section 27)
  2. Councils must keep care plans under review to make sure they do not get out of date. Reviews must involve the cared for person and check if their circumstances or needs have changed.
  3. Reviews should cover important issues. Those particularly relevant to this complaint include:
    • If someone’s needs or circumstances have changed.
    • What is working and what might need to change in the person’s care.
  4. Reviews must not be used to arbitrarily reduce someone’s care and support package. And, where a council decides to significantly reduce the level of services, it must provide cogent reasons.
  5. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 explains that mental capacity assessments should always be about someone’s capacity to make a particular decision at a specific time. Councils should assume every adult has capacity to make decisions unless an assessment proves otherwise.

The Council’s procedures

  1. The Council’s Quality Assurance Meeting Panel (the Panel) considers funding for care packages. It has guidance about how it calculates a personal budget and it says that different weightings are given to different answers in the assessment.
  2. The Council uses a Resource Allocation System to determine funding of eligible needs.
  3. The Council has provided guidance to its social workers and occupational therapists about the new requirements of the Care Act 2014.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF)

  1. The ILF provided funding to eligible disabled residents. This was a Government based discretionary scheme to help people who had day and night care needs.
  2. The ILF had its own funding criteria. From July 2015 councils became responsible for all care provision rather than the ILF. The Department of Health stated that funding in respect of former ILF users would be distributed to councils on the basis of local patterns of expenditure. The Government provided nine months of funding (July 2015 to April 2016). But there was no requirement for councils to ring fence this money.

Key facts

  1. Mr X is elderly, is registered blind, is doubly incontinent, suffers from severe arthritis throughout his body and from anxiety and from diabetes. He is also obese and is prone to falling. He has significantly reduced mobility. Mr X requires personal assistance in all areas of daily living.
  2. Mr X has been a service user since 2003. In addition to receiving funding from the Council, Mr X was in receipt of support from the ILF. Mr X was receiving a care package, consisting of £418.14 per week from the Council and £792.96 from the ILF. His package included night as well as day time support.
  3. When the ILF closed, the Council became fully responsible for meeting Mr X’s needs. Mr X says he did not have a carer with him or an advocate during the 2015 assessment and he had a number of complaints about the behaviour of the assessor. The assessment recorded that Mr X had high support needs in most activities.
  4. After this assessment, the Council reduced Mr X’s care package as the Panel agreed to provide 23.5 hours per week. Mr Y says this reduced Mr X’s care package by as much as by 75%. But the Council failed to provide reasons to explain this significant reduction. Mr X appealed this decision and asked the Council to reconsider. However, the Council’s decision remained the same.
  5. In December 2015 Mr X’s solicitors sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Council, threatening legal proceedings and stating that the Council had failed to carry out a lawful assessment or provide a lawful care and support package. The Council stated that it had carried out its assessment in conjunction with specialists from the National Health Service (NHS). The Council decided that Mr X did not require night time support because he was able to transfer out of bed using his zimmer frame.
  6. Mr X was unable to proceed with his proposed legal action because he was not eligible for legal aid. Mr X says that, as a result of the Council’s cut to his budget, he had to give notice to a number of his carers. Since the reduction in Mr X’s care package, Mr Y says he has struggled to maintain his independence safely and his well being.
  7. In October 2016, the Council agreed to deal with Mr X’s concerns as a formal complaint. As a result of a Freedom Information Request, Mr Y learnt that a number of the Council’s service users had had their care budgets cut.
  8. In July 2016, the Council carried out a reassessment of Mr X’s care package. Mr Y attended the reassessment which was undertaken by a social worker and an occupational therapist. Mr Y considered that the officers were mindful of what the Funding Panel would approve rather than what Mr X required. Further, the completed assessment and the care and support plan did not mention the outcomes of the Care Act eligibility criteria. So, as a result, Mr X’s needs in relation to particular outcomes were not given sufficient consideration.
  9. After the 2016 reassessment, the Council agreed 25.15 hours per week of support. This consists of 19.15 hours of support for personal care, 3 hours for socialising, 2 hours per week for counselling and 1 hour for support with paperwork and appointments. Mr Y maintained that this was not sufficient to meet Mr X’s eligible needs.
  10. The Council agreed to carry out a further assessment as a result of Mr X’s continued concerns. The Council also sought information from Mr X’s General Practitioner (GP). Mr X also applied for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) so that he could install a level access shower.
  11. The Council provided some additional equipment to Mr X as assessed as necessary by the Council’s occupational therapist. This equipment was primarily to assist Mr X with his mobility, prevent falls and to provide safety.

Mr Y’s concerns

  1. Mr Y is critical that both the 2015 and 2016 assessments failed to properly identify Mr X’s eligible needs in the light of the requirements of the Care Act 2014.
  2. In particular, the Council had not sufficiently considered the impact of Mr X being doubly incontinent and that he could not manage his toilet needs without assistance. This was particularly relevant at night time. So, often Mr X had soiled himself and he had to wait until the arrival of the morning carer to wash him. This affected Mr X’s sense of independence and harmed his dignity and well being. It also meant that the morning carer’s time was spent washing and clearing up. Moreover, Mr X was vulnerable to falls at night times, when attempting to get to the toilet, resulting in him hurting himself.
  3. Mr Y was also concerned that there has been a lack of transparency in respect of the calculation of funding. The Council’s Resource Allocation System (RAS) is a software programme that calculates the indicative budget using the information in relation to service users’ needs assessments. Mr Y says that it is not clear whether the software is sufficiently sensitive to identifying all eligible needs. Further the guidance states that complex RAS models of allocation may not work for all client groups where people have complex needs.
  4. Mr Y considers that the RAS may place a cap on provision. He also raised a concern that the Council had not ring fenced the funding provided by Government to either former ILF clients or adult social care more generally.
  5. Mr Y says that the Council has not, over the past two years, provided cogent reasons for the significant reduction in Mr X’s care package, that the care and support plan did not show how eligible needs would be met by the personal budget, that reference was being made by officers to setting levels of care that the Panel would agree and that the Council may have reduced the care package for a number of clients who previously received ILF funding.
  6. In conclusion Mr Y states “The Council’s failure to provide a detailed breakdown in relation to all tasks required to meet Mr X’s needs and reference eligibility outcomes throughout both the needs assessment and care planning process has resulted in an arbitrary package that does not genuinely involve the individual’s view on what is needed and is a far cry from the person centred model that is required by the Care Act. That would not be as much of an issue for our client if his needs were being met by an adequate care package but because he has had a 75% reduction in support, this one size fits all approach is compromising our client’s physical and mental wellbeing”.

The Council’s response

  1. The Council says that, in line with many other local authorities, it did not ring fence the additional funding from the Government. It had the discretion to do this. It is also satisfied that each person has been robustly reassessed and, while some people have had their budget reduced, others have had an increase.
  2. The Council had arranged for Mr X to have four visits per day, three hours socialising per week, two hours counselling and one hour of support with appointments and correspondence. The Council says Mr X had chosen to take his care hours as a block each day, between 9am and midday, which it did not consider was helpful to him. But the Council recognised that this was Mr X’s preference because he finds it difficult to cope with a variety of carers arriving at different times of the day.
  3. At the time of the events of this complaint, the Council says it was using an old version of the care and support plan recording form which had the previous ratings under FACS. But the system has now been updated.
  4. The RAS produces an indicative budget but a final budget is determined after consideration of the client’s care and support plan.
  5. The Council says that, at the time of the assessments, Mr X was not bed bound and that he was able to get out of bed at night and either use his commode or downstairs toilet. The Council says Mr X demonstrated how he was able to mobilise independently by using his walking frame.
  6. In June 2015, the Funding Panel agreed 23.5 hours per week and in August 2016 this was increased to 25 hours and 15 minutes per week.

Analysis

  1. The Care Act 2014 brought in significant changes to the assessment of need and provision of care. Its aim was to eliminate the previous post code lottery of provision through the introduction of national eligibility criteria and to ensure a person-centred approach to meet desired outcomes.
  2. The Council had failed to demonstrate what needed to be done at each care visit and no allocation was given to the substantial time required for Mr X’s toilet needs to be met. Moreover, Mr X was becoming reluctant to try to attempt to get out of bed at night time because he was prone to fall. This was also causing a decline in his wellbeing. It is also difficult to understand the Panel’s rationale for reducing Mr X’s care package in the way it has done.
  3. It is important that, in the spirit of the Care Act, the Council ensures that Mr X’s needs are properly recorded and provided for and that sufficient attention is given to the desired outcomes to prevent unnecessary decline in his wellbeing.
  4. Overall, I considered that there is evidence of fault by the Council in that I cannot be satisfied that the assessments of 2015 and 2016, and subsequent support plans, properly identified Mr X’s eligible needs because:
      1. The impact of being doubly incontinent was not properly assessed. The adaptations or equipment referred to by the Council did not appear to manage this difficulty bearing in mind the need to retain Mr X’s dignity. The Care Act outcome on managing toilet needs was therefore too restrictive;
      2. The impact of Mr X’s visual impairment and its effects on him in achieving the range of required outcomes was not fully recognized;
      3. Mr X required assistance to achieve all but one of the outcomes listed at paragraph 9. It was not clear how the care package was able to achieve this or the reasons for the significant cut in his care package since 2015;
      4. While the RAS is commercially sensitive, it was not clear how the Council allocated hours to need.
  5. Mr Y and Mr X had lost confidence in the Council’s ability and willingness to assess him in line with the Care Act. They feared that resources may be determining his level of need and subsequent care package.
  6. The most appropriate way to resolve this complaint was for there to be an independent assessment of Mr X’s needs and care package, carried out by an assessor who has some experience of working with visually impaired clients. Particular attention needed to be paid to Mr X’s toileting needs and consideration given to how he managed at night time and the implications this has had on the care hours he might require.
  7. We recommended that the Council carried out an independent assessment. The Council agreed and this assessment took place during the course of the Ombudsman’s investigation.

Independent assessment of September 2017

  1. Mr Y sent to the independent assessor the Council’s earlier assessments and support plans. The independent assessor recommended 93.25 care hours which was a significant difference between the Council’s previously recommended 25.5 hours.
  2. The Council’s Panel had to consider this assessment. However, during the course of this investigation, Mr X suffered a serious fall and was in hospital. This fall resulted in Mr X ‘s mobility being seriously affected and he is now in a wheelchair.
  3. In December 2017, the Council agreed a care package of 66.25 hours per week broken down to also ensure Mr X’s safe discharge from hospital. The Council also agreed to review the care package in January 2018 and the Team Manager visited Mr X at his home.
  4. Since then, there have been discussions between the Council, Mr Y and Mr X about night time support and other aspects of the care package. This has resulted in the Council agreeing to two carers arriving at 11.30pm for 30 minutes to help with Mr X’s toileting and to repositioning him in bed. The Council has also allocated one hour to help Mr X with shopping and it has provided Mr X with details of the wheelchair taxi service, although to date he has not been able to use this service.
  5. Mr X has indicated that the Council is now providing an acceptable care package and support plan and it is an improvement on what the Council had previously been willing to provide. Mr Y hopes that the lessons learnt from his complaint will have implications for the way the Council now undertakes all care assessments and support plans in future.

Agreed action

  1. The Council agreed the independent assessment of Mr X’s care needs and this has resulted in a significant increase in his care hours. I am satisfied that the Council has been at fault in its earlier assessments of Mr X for the reasons set out and for the reasons referred to by Mr Y. The remedy for this was for the Council to commission an independent assessment and to reconsider Mr X’s care package. The Council also agreed to pay £250 for Mr X’s time and trouble in making his complaints.
  2. However, Mr X’s health does seem to be deteriorating so it is important for the Council to keep a close watch on this and carry out regular reviews of the support package.
  3. The Council has followed the Ombudsman’s recommendations. However, subsequent to the independent assessment, Mr Y requested a substantial compensation payment to Mr X for his lost care hours and for the monies he spent on meeting his needs. However, this is not a matter which I investigated as part of this complaint.
  4. I therefore consider it is appropriate to end this complaint investigation given the independent assessment and the resulting new support plan has resolved most of Mr X and Mr Y’s original complaint.
  5. However, it is open to Mr Y or Mr X to make a further complaint to the Council first and then, if dissatisfied, to the Ombudsman, on the issue of his losses. It would also be possible for Mr X to consider making a legal claim against the Council.

Final decision

  1. There is evidence of fault by the Council causing an injustice to Mr X. The Council has provided the recommended remedy. I have therefore completed this investigation and I am closing the complaint.

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 

 

 

Motion for Disability Labour AGM #SaveWILG

This is the motion I am proposing at the Disability Labour AGM on Saturday 8th September in Leeds.

Thanks must go to Keith Sinclair for his amazing work on creating this motion. The strength of the #SaveWILG campaign group never fails to impress me. It is very humbling.

***

Disability Labour notes:

  • the support for the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) from recipients and the wider support that exists.

 

  • that a positive approach must include a tripartite team to agree the Care Package, comprising the disabled individual, the local authority and a Social Worker independent of both parties.

 

  • the decision of the Welsh Government to abolish the WILG

 

  • the overwhelming decision of the Wales Labour Party conference to support the saving of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG)

 

  • the different approaches that have been adopted to supporting Independent Living in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

Disability Labour believes

  • that the approach to Independent Living adopted in England has been a disaster and that the models adopted in Scotland and North Ireland are more likely to meets the needs of disabled people.

 

  • that Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and trade unions in Wales should be congratulated for their support for the campaign to save the WILG.

 

  • that the evidence is clear that local authorities in Wales are not in a position to seamlessly take on the responsibilities of the WILG.

Disability Labour calls upon

  • the Welsh Government to save the WILG as a first step towards meeting the needs of disabled people in Wales

 

  • CLPS, unions and Labour affiliates to support the campaign to save the WILG.

 

Proposed by Nathan Lee Davies

Seconded by Dorian Gordon

 

 

PLAID CYMRU PRESS RELEASE: Leanne Wood AM Shows Support #SaveWILG

Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government to maintain an essential grant for disabled people after 20% of AMs backed a statement of opinion.

Plaid Cymru has tabled a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly calling for the Welsh Independent Living Grant, which allows severely disabled people to continue to live independently, to be retained. The Welsh Government plans to scrap the grant next year, transferring the responsibilities over to Local Authorities.

Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, has been campaigning to keep the grant for several years, and managed to pass a motion of support for maintain the grant at this year’s Welsh Labour Spring Conference.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM said:

“Those in receipt of the Welsh Independent Grant tell me how vitally important it is to them. Not only financially, but more importantly it gives them that independence to control their own lives. We all have our dignity, and having that ability to make our own decisions over our own lives is important for all of us. This is why recipients of the WILG wish to keep it, and given the chance to roll it out to other disabled people as well.

“Scotland have managed to keep their Independent Living Fund, ensuring that they have a national criteria. They’ve also invested more into it, meaning that more people can benefit from it. Evidence from London shows that former Independent Living Fund Recipients there have suffered as a consequence of the Tories cutting the grant and passporting the programme onto local authorities. Labour in Wales should follow the Scottish lead rather than the Tories in England, and ensure that our most seriously disabled people are shown respect and can live their lives as independently as possible. Recipients of WILG are seriously concerned about the future when they should be enjoying what is left of their lives.”

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Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for North Wales, Llyr Gruffydd said:

“Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant tell me that the system as it is now works well, and they fear that transferring the responsibility over to councils would compromise their independence. Maintaining their independence is paramount. Their dignity and right to independence should be respected.

“Scotland’s Government has maintained its Independent Living Grant and indeed invested in the scheme. It’s widely supported by disabled people, and it provides a national criteria instead of forcing a prescribed criteria locally that would result in a post code lottery for the most severely disabled people. This is what will happen in Wales under the proposals.

“I’m calling for each Assembly member to sign up to my Statement of Opinion, and urging as many people to contact their Assembly Member asking them to support it. So far 20% of Assembly Members have signed up. I would hope that Labour Assembly Members would support it, as it chimes with their own party policy that was only passed earlier this year following a strong grassroots campaign.”

Disability campaigner Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, gave his backing for the Statement of Opinion:

“This is a very frightening time for disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales as they are being asked to rely solely on cash-strapped local authorities to meet their daily living requirements. The Welsh Government is quite simply washing its hands of all responsibility towards this section of society.

“Care packages were originally agreed upon by the disabled individual, local authorities and a third-party social worker who was entirely independent. Under the new system, who would disabled people be able to turn to if they did not agree with the local authority? The existing tripartite system for deciding care packages MUST be maintained.

“I should also underline the fact that I am an employer who provides work for five other people. The loss of WILG could mean that my personal assistants will be losing significant amounts of work.”

The Statement of Opinion says:

This Assembly:
1. Notes the cuts suffered by local authorities over recent years, and the squeeze on social services budgets across Wales.
2. Further notes that article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states how people with disabilities should have “choices equal to others”.
3. Commends the Scottish Government on introducing a successful Independent Living Fund that is trusted and has a national criteria.
4. Believes that the Welsh Independent Living Grant should be retained as a national funding package with a national criteria, ensuring the recipients independence, along the lines of ILF Scotland.
Anybody wanting to urge their AM to sign the Statement of Opinion should ask them to support OPIN-2018-0094 The future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

SOP and signatories here: http://record.assembly.wales/StatementOfOpinion/94

Ends

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