Huw Irranca-Davies AM

Flashback – Minutes from Health and Social Care Committee Meeting from January 2014 #SaveWILG

I was sent the following link by a fellow campaigner and it could be vital in our fight to #SaveWILG.  It contains Minutes from a meeting of the Health and Social Care Committee from January 2014 and highlights many of the points that the campaign has been making while Huw Irranca-Davies has attempted to divert attention from the facts with smoke and mirrors.

As you can see from the Minutes below, Civil Servants involved with the Welsh Government could not hide from the fact that the Consultation results clearly showed that disabled people and their families were overwhelmingly in favour of creating an ILF for Wales and totally opposed to Direct Payments from untrustworthy local authorities.  I have copied a number of quotes from the Minutes below to illustrate and emphasise our points.  The first of which comes from Stephen Gulliford, the Charging Policy Manager at the Welsh Government.  He was talking about the Four Options that emerged from the Stakeholder group.  See Paragraph 13 in the minutes below.  Later on, he commented:

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but opinions were stressed that they didn’t really trust that the local authorities, if they were given the responsibility, would continue to have the same level of support they receive under ILF currently, although some service users did go for option 4, where a specific grant would be purely for ILF to carry on in the current form, at least with the same level of payment.  

Gulliford continues:

Options 3 and 4 obviously found more support through local authorities and local authority organisations,

This supports the theory that I have always had – that the Welsh Government were put under pressure from Local Authorities and merely crumbled because they believed they could save a bit of money and a lot of hassle.

I would also like to thank Janet Finch-Saunders for her work in support of disabled people.  At the meeting in 2014, she had the following to say:

Good morning. I suppose, for me, you know, around all this, I see the inequality of the fact that this scheme is closed to new recipients since 2010. Clearly, in Wales, we have, you know, an ageing population. I see the numbers are diminishing, and the sums involved—. You know, it does mean that there are the haves and the have-nots. Now, in option 2, setting up a national independent living scheme as an alternative, it goes on to say that the local authorities, then, would be able to assess a person, and then it goes on further to say that the NILS would not just be available for those who currently receive ILF—it would be available to local authorities for all individuals, obviously, meeting that criteria. Surely, there’s far more equality in that, to actually go for option 2.

In an exchange with Stephen Gulliford, she sums it up with six simple words.

Mr Gulliford: Most of the support for option 2 has been from individual service users.[72]           

Janet Finch-Saunders: Does that not say it all?

One issue that Hugh Irranca-Davies always brings up is that disabled people would receive less money if an ILF scheme was introduced in Wales.  This is used as a point of defence by Stephen Gulliford when the mood of the meeting seems to be swinging in support of Option 2.

Well, it was a stakeholder group of representatives who actually created this second option, feeling—yes—that it’s more equal. The downside of that is, obviously, some people getting ILF now, if this was the option that we pursued, would get less.

The point is that disabled people and their families were FULLY AWARE that an ILF option might lead to less hours of care and support. I was at a couple of consultation meetings where this was discussed.  Everyone agreed that this would be a better option than letting local authorities get their hands on the money.

I could spend all day giving examples from below of the many ways in which disabled people with high care and support needs have been ignored and effectively silenced since 2014.  However, I do not have the time available to do this and trust that my readers will take their time to dig out the truth that Welsh Labour have always been running from.  If any of my readers would like to add some points about the minutes from the meeting, please feel free to leave them in the comments box below.

I must dash now as I have a meeting of the Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association this evening where I am fighting for the club to improve access for all.  Without victory in the WILG campaign though, I will be unable to enjoy the benefits that we are battling for, but I believe that the minutes I have presented below exposes the truth that Welsh Labour have been trying to hide from and gives us hope that people will start to see sense.  All we can do is keep fighting for justice…

 

The National Assembly for Wales
The Health and Social Care Committee
Wednesday, 21 January 2014
Contents

Introductions, Apologies and Substitutions

Consultation on Future Care and Support Arrangements for Independent Living Fund

Recipients: Factual Briefing

Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included.
Committee members in attendance
Alun Davies Labour
Janet Finch-Saunders Welsh Conservatives
John Griffiths Labour
Elin Jones Plaid Cymru
Darren Millar Welsh Conservatives
Gwyn R. Price Labour
David Rees Labour (Committee Chair)
Lindsay Whittle Plaid Cymru
Kirsty Williams  

Welsh Liberal Democrats

 

Others in attendance
Alistair Davey Deputy Director, Social Services and Integration, Welsh Government
Stephen Gulliford Charging Policy Manager, Delivering Policy for Children and Adults Division, Welsh Government

National Assembly for Wales officials in attendance
Amy Clifton Researcher
Helen Finlayson Second Clerk
Sian Giddins Deputy Clerk
Llinos Madeley Clerk

 

The meeting began at 09:18.
Introductions, Apologies and Substitutions
[1]               David Rees: Good morning, and can I welcome Members to this morning’s session of the Health and Social Care Committee? Can I remind Members, please, to turn your mobile phones off, or any other electronic equipment, which may interfere with the broadcasting equipment? There is no scheduled fire alarm today, so, if one does go off, please follow the directions of the ushers. There is simultaneous translation available on channel 1, from Welsh to English, and for amplification on channel 2. No need to touch the microphones—the microphones will come on automatically. We have received apologies from Lynne Neagle this morning, and there is no substitute being indicated.
Consultation on Future Care and Support Arrangements for Independent Living Fund Recipients: Factual Briefing
[2]               David Rees: We’ll go on to item 2 on the agenda. This is a briefing from officials on the consultation that’s been undertaken on the transfer of the independent living fund to the Welsh Government. Can I welcome Stephen Gulliford and Alistair Davey? Would you like to introduce yourselves, and your titles, for the record, please?
[3]               Mr Davey: I am Alistair Davey, deputy director within social services and integration, and my responsibility is delivering policy for children and adults.
[4]               Mr Gulliford: Good morning. I’m Steve Gulliford. I’m policy charging officer for residential and non-residential care within the same directorate.
[5]               David Rees: Thank you very much. Could I remind Members that this is a factual briefing and consultation on the consultation that has been undertaken on the future care and support arrangements for the ILF? Obviously, there are four outlines that were discussed, and we can, perhaps, explore those a little bit more—how the consultation responses have been analysed and, perhaps, the emerging themes that are coming through that consultation process. Would you like to give any short introduction at the start of the session?
[6]               Mr Davey: Yes. I believe you wish for an overview of the ILF scheme itself.
[7]               David Rees: That would be very helpful.
[8]               Mr Davey: Certainly. The independent living fund was set up in 1988 as an executive—excuse me—non-departmental public body of the Department for Work and Pensions. It was established to provide financial support to disabled people in the UK who required a higher level of support to live independently. It was funded by the UK Government and it’s operated by the independent living fund. The ILF makes direct cash payments to disabled people with very significant care needs. These payments they can then use to pay for care and support they require or to employ their own personal assistant. This financial support enables disabled people with significant care needs to live independent lives in their home and community. Payments can be used for a range of things, including assistance with eating and drinking, cooking and preparing food and drink; assistance with dressing; and assistance with personal hygiene, laundry, other domestic duties, personal care and even shopping.
[9]               In calculating the amount of a payment that the ILF will make, it will take into account the amount the individual can pay towards the cost of the care and support, based on their weekly income and their living costs. Consequently, it will reduce the level of that payment and take into account welfare benefits, for example, disability living allowance, company or occupational pensions, incapacity benefit, war pensions, widow or widower’s pensions and income from capital investments or savings.
[10]           There are, primarily, two groups of ILF recipients, known as group 1 and group 2. Group 1—and there are about, I think, 171 in group 1 within Wales—are recipients who started to receive funding between 1988 and February 1993, when the ILF eligibility criteria were changed. They are not required to have local authority support, although some do receive it. Group 2 are recipients who started to receive ILF from 1993. The new criteria required local authorities to contribute a minimum of £200 a week to the individual support package. The threshold has been raised over the years, and it’s now £340. The majority, I think—1,515 recipients in Wales—fall into group 2. As of 30 July 2014, there were £1,686 ILF recipients in Wales who, on average, receive about £335 a week to meet their needs.
[11]           Obviously, you are aware that the UK Government—and I won’t go into the history, unless you wish me to do so—decided to close the scheme, and it will close from 30 June. It will be a transfer of £20.4 million; however, that does not include anything to actually run the scheme itself. That has to be taken out of in-year savings. Obviously, we established a stakeholder group to establish a number of options—there were four in the end—and the consultation ran from 3 October to 23 December. I think Steve is just going to give you a quick overview of the four options.
[12]           Mr Gulliford: These were developed throughout last year with the stakeholder group, which originally had started developing the options when the UK Government announced that ILF was going to close from 31 March this year, before all the legal challenges. So, we re-examined whether those options that had been developed to that point were still sustainable, and then the fourth option, which became option 2, emanated out of discussions with the stakeholder group, particularly the third sector.
[13]           So, there are four options. Option 1 is to set up an independent living fund, very similar to the current scheme. Option 2 is to create an independent body to administer it on behalf of ILF. Option 3 is to transfer the £20.4 million into the revenue support grant for local authorities. And option 4 is to create a special grant, purely for ILF, but administered through local authorities. So, they were the four options that we went out to consultation on. 
[14]           David Rees: Okay.
[15]           Mr Gulliford: I don’t know if you want me to expand on them.
[16]           David Rees: I’m sure Members might want to ask if they want some clarity on those things. Okay, well, thank you for that. Just for clarity and confirmation, the allocation of funding being transferred over is purely based upon the payments, and there is no funding allocated for any administrative aspects of any of the options, in that sense.
[17]           Mr Gulliford: No. It’s purely estimated on the number of ILF recipients in Wales at 30 June this year, and, as Alistair said, there are in-year savings, through suspensions, where ILF recipients may be in hospital or having a temporary stay in residential care. But, from what we understand, you wouldn’t know the level of that until the end of that financial year. Obviously, ILF has run since its inception, so they’ve anticipated a certain level. We can’t anticipate that and we’ll have to calculate at the end of the year.
[18]           Mr Davey: Obviously, the £20 million is a part payment, which obviously starts from 1 July. It’s a part-year payment.
[19]           David Rees: Okay. Thank you. Gwyn, did you want to—
[20]           Gwyn R. Price: Yes. I am just wondering; are there any emerging themes that have come to light so far in the responses to date?
[21]           Mr Gulliford: There are two sort of—. The analysis is still going on, but there are two sort of distinct themes going on. We had just over 280 responses. The vast majority we’ve called formal responses, in as much as they completed the consultation response forms. Some were not complete, but most were, and standalones, which were literally one line e-mails saying ‘I want to keep the ILF’ without any support or disregard for the other three options. But, essentially, options 1 and 2 have got the support of service users, who either want ILF, understandably, to carry on as far as possible as it is now, and the independent third sector. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but opinions were stressed that they didn’t really trust that the local authorities, if they were given the responsibility, would continue to have the same level of support they receive under ILF currently, although some service users did go for option 4, where a specific grant would be purely for ILF to carry on in the current form, at least with the same level of payment. Options 3 and 4 obviously found more support through local authorities and local authority organisations, because the vast majority, as Alistair has referred to, of ILF recipients receive some form of care and support through the local authority, through the non-residential side. So, the infrastructure’s there; they know of the people and, therefore, it also brings all the funding into one stream instead of having this one group of people getting ILF and other people who could possibly qualify for ILF, if that was still open, not having access to the ILF funding.
[22]           Gwyn R. Price: So, there is a definite split, with the users saying option 1 and 2 and the local authorities saying 3 and 4, really.
[23]           Mr Gulliford: Yes. If I could just add to that, during the consultation, a number of people rang me asking for hard copies of the consultation, either because they weren’t conversant with computers or they didn’t have a computer, and the vast majority did say that, if you saw the difference ILF had made to their wife, son, daughter—whoever they cared for—that’s why they wanted it kept more or less intact. Because the flexibility or the quality of life that they had then, with the choice of either employing their own carers or employing agency staff, made a big difference compared with the somewhat regimented support of a local authority.
[24]           Gwyn R. Price: So, what they’re really saying is that they’re set up, they’re happy where they are—‘Leave me alone’.
[25]           Mr Gulliford: Yeah.
[26]           Mr Davey: Obviously they’re really concerned about local government setting of eligibility thresholds and all manner of things, and obviously, that’s what we expected them to be concerned about—the protection of that payment—and quite rightly so.
[27]           Gwyn R. Price: Thank you.
[28]           David Rees: Okay. Lindsay and then Alun.
[29]           Lindsay Whittle: Thank you, Chair. Good morning. I can understand the concern of the recipients about the local authorities administrating the new fund, whoever administers it. If we had an independent Wales fund, do you have any idea on the cost? We’re talking of £20 million; how much would it cost, do you think, to administer that centrally?
[30]           Mr Davey: Our belief at present, in terms of the administration and, sort of, like, taking a read across, is that we’d be talking about between £300,000 and £500,000, which is, at present, about the offset that comes from in-year savings anyway. But, obviously, if you’re setting up bodies, we would have to look at an initial set-up cost as well as part of that calculation and, obviously, we’re not in a position to actually do that at present.

 

[31]           Lindsay Whittle: So, it’s administered from London at the moment
[32]           Mr Gulliford: Nottingham.
[33]           Lindsay Whittle: Sorry?
[34]           Mr Gulliford: Nottingham.
[35]           Lindsay Whittle: From Nottingham. From England, sorry. Would any funding come with the transfer for administration?
[36]           Mr Gulliford: Not for the administration. As Alistair says, the £20.4 million is basically the ILF payments that approximately 1,600 ILF people in Wales would get at the end of June. And in-year savings seem to pay for the administration of the scheme.
[37]           Mr Daveu: That would be, for example, if someone came off the scheme, or if they went into hospital for a period. Generally, that’s anticipated to average over the years at about £300,000 to £500,000. That, generally, is then used as part of how the scheme is administered. Obviously, then, it’s recalculated at the end of each financial year. Obviously, we are also aware that it is a declining number that is actually on the scheme at present.
[38]           Lindsay Whittle: Could we not use that similar savings scheme?
[39]           Mr Davey: That’s exactly what we would be using within Wales to actually fund the administration, yes.
[40]           Lindsay Whittle: Okay; alright, thank you.
[41]           David Rees: Alun.
[42]           Alun Davies: I’d like to start by asking you about the legal basis for this. I presume that responsibility is being transferred from Government to Government via a transfer of functions Order.
[43]           Mr Davey: I believe that that is in hand, isn’t it, Steve?
[44]           Mr Gulliford: Yeah.
[45]           Alun Davies: So, do you know—? Has there been any transfer of legislative authority to the National Assembly?
[46]           Mr Davey: I’m not sure; I’m going to have to get back to you on that.
[47]           David Rees: That would be helpful.
[48]           Alun Davies: So, in terms of the options available to Ministers, options 3 and 4 that you’ve discussed would be a relatively straightforward grant process. The other two, if Ministers were minded to set up a new body for Wales—ILF Cymru, or whatever—then I would assume that they would have to legislate to do that. Is that your assumption?
[49]           Mr Davey: That would be my assumption—that we would have to legislate.
[50]           Alun Davies: That would require primary legislation. So, a scheme within Government could be administered by the Government via the civil service.
[51]           Mr Davey: Yes.
[52]           Alun Davies: That could be done without, necessarily, creating any need for primary legislation.
[53]           Mr Davey: Yes.
[54]           Alun Davies: But that would require secondary legislation, surely, to set out the structures within which it would operate and the basis upon which it would operate.
[55]           Mr Davey: I think that would normally be the case, yes.
[56]           Alun Davies: Would you have an indicative timescale for that?
[57]           Mr Davey: Not at present, no. Obviously, we’re about to set up a project group now to look forward, once we’ve decided which option to take forward, to scope the relevant timetable and arrangements we would have to put in place.
[58]           Alun Davies: Right; well, that sounds to me like that could take some time.
[59]           Mr Davey: Well, our view is that we’ve already—. Obviously, we’re aware of what the four options are, and we’re already starting to scope out how we would take those forward. So, it’s not as though it’s a standing-still position.
[60]           Alun Davies: No, but it’s not going to happen before 30 June, either.
[61]           Mr Davey: It is unlikely. You know, at present, obviously, we’re looking at—. Depending on which option the Minister decides to take, that will have an impact on the overall timetable, and that will form part of the advice that we would put up. It could be that, if one of the options requires us to have an extended timetable, we’d have to put in place some form of interim arrangement, in terms of ensuring that those payments were still made to the recipients.
[62]           Alun Davies: I would assume that, if we’re looking at primary legislation, that’s not going to happen in this Assembly, so, the earliest that could begin is the summer of 2016; it would be, possibly, law by the spring of 2017, and start in the financial year in 2018. Is that an unreasonable—
[63]           Mr Davey: That is not unreasonable, no.
[64]           Alun Davies: —timetable? So, option 1 is quite difficult, in terms of actual delivery.
[65]           Mr Davey: That is the case. Options 1 and 2 are more difficult, and will be more time consuming and, possibly, more expensive to administer and take forward.
[66]           Alun Davies: Okay.
[67]           David Rees: Okay. Janet.
[68]           Janet Finch-Saunders: Good morning. I suppose, for me, you know, around all this, I see the inequality of the fact that this scheme is closed to new recipients since 2010. Clearly, in Wales, we have, you know, an ageing population. I see the numbers are diminishing, and the sums involved—. You know, it does mean that there are the haves and the have-nots. Now, in option 2, setting up a national independent living scheme as an alternative, it goes on to say that the local authorities, then, would be able to assess a person, and then it goes on further to say that the NILS would not just be available for those who currently receive ILF—it would be available to local authorities for all individuals, obviously, meeting that criteria. Surely, there’s far more equality in that, to actually go for option 2.
[69]           Mr Davey: I think that presumption could be made, but, obviously, we’re looking at, in a consultation process—
[70]           Janet Finch-Saunders: I was going to ask you again whether you could just remind me of the figures on the consultation, because local authorities and health boards are best suited, if you like, to do the assessments. What kind of response have you had against—? You’ve mentioned that some are concerned about local authorities handling it.
[71]           Mr Gulliford: Most of the support for option 2 has been from individual service users.
[72]           Janet Finch-Saunders: Does that not say it all?
[73]           Mr Gulliford: Well, it was a stakeholder group of representatives who actually created this second option, feeling—yes—that it’s more equal. The downside of that is, obviously, some people getting ILF now, if this was the option that we pursued, would get less.
[74]           Janet Finch-Saunders: Well, yeah, you’d have more people getting less, but more people would feel—. Yeah, okay. Thank you.
[75]           David Rees: In relation to option 4 that we’ve talked about, obviously, option 4 is a ring-fenced grant, with an expiry date at some point, which may be transferred into the RSG. Have you any indication of an expected period of time in which it would be ring-fenced? If people are answering to that consultation, and being asked what their preferred option is, and they think that is going to secure the ILF for them, then, clearly, were they aware that this would expire, and that this would expire at a particular point, where it goes back into the local authority? In other words, it goes back to option 3 in one sense.
[76]           Mr Gulliford: It’d be wrong for me to say ‘yes’ without any qualification, because, again, this was developed in conjunction with the stakeholders, who cascaded it out. But, you’re quite right—they may think it’s another form of protecting the ILF in perpetuity. But, it was made clear that this would be, if you like, a transient grant, obviously time-limited, before ultimately it went into the RSG.
[77]           Mr Davey: [Inaudible.]—effectively, you would have a declining scheme, declining numbers as well, and you’re going to get to a point where those numbers are going to drop to such a level that it would be appropriate to put it into the RSG.
[78]           David Rees: Okay. Lindsay, do you want to come back?
[79]           Lindsay Whittle: Sorry, Chair, so, the London Government has decided that the ILF will close on 30 June 2015. Under the new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, ILF recipients wouldn’t transfer directly onto the new arrangements possibly until 2016, if the Welsh Government decides to take up the cudgels, of course, because they haven’t decided that yet, have they?
[80]           Mr Gulliford: No.
[81]           Lindsay Whittle: So, what we’re deciding is how will we administer this fund, as from when?
[82]           Mr Davey: As from 1 July.
[83]           Lindsay Whittle: 1 July—
[84]           Mr Davey: This year.
[85]           Lindsay Whittle: This year. But it’s all going to stop in 2015 anyway.
[86]           Mr Gulliford: No, it’s going to stop being paid from the one office in Nottingham, and then devolved to the devolved administration—
[87]           Lindsay Whittle: The money will come with it?
[88]           Mr Davey: Yes, the £20 million. Sorry if we weren’t clear on that—the money will come over with that.
[89]           Lindsay Whittle: Right, okay; I’m more clear now. Thank you, Chair.
[90]           David Rees: Darren?
[91]           Darren Millar: Just on the question about the money situation, you suggested earlier on, Mr Gulliford, that because a snapshot was taken as at 30 June two thousand and—when did you say the date was? Because a snapshot was taken, effectively, there would have been some people who were in-patients in hospital and there would have potentially been some people who were in residential care, but wouldn’t that always be the case with this particularly vulnerable group? You’re always going to have a cohort that may be in hospital.
[92]           Mr Gulliford: That’s right. It’s—
[93]           Darren Millar: So, taking a snapshot on any date is going to be a picture that should be typical of the costs of the scheme—ongoing in any case, yes?
[94]           Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[95]           Darren Millar: And in terms of the age profile of the individuals in receipt of cash under the existing arrangement, what’s the average age? No doubt, some of these individuals may well have passed away.
[96]           Mr Gulliford: That’s true but, actually, within the consultation document—
[97]           Darren Millar: Because the size of the cohort is shrinking, there may be a bit more cash to go around—that’s the point I’m making.
[98]           Mr Gulliford: Perversely, with social care, if my memory serves, the vast majority are under 65.
[99]           Darren Millar: Is that right?
[100]       Mr Davey: Yes, the vast majority of the 1,550 are aged below 65, whereas 487 are aged between 16 and 35 years of age.
[101]       Darren Millar: Is that right? Okay, so it’s quite a different picture from other social care—
[102]       Mr Gulliford: It is. There’s a lot of—obviously, by their qualification, they’re severely disabled. But, again, speaking to a number of respondents who’d asked for the hard copies, a number of them have learning difficulties—learning disabilities, sorry—quite a significant number brain-damaged through immunisation, and relatively young. So, again, it’s only a projection, but the chances are they will need that high level of care for a significant period of time.
[103]       Darren Millar: Yes. Tell me, if there were no ILF scheme—and, of course there are people at the moment out there who have no access to a scheme at all—what sort of support is available for those sorts of individuals now, in terms of a package of support that might be built around them?
[104]       Mr Gulliford: Following an assessment of their care needs by a local authority, they could either have direct service provision or direct payments. I mean, if they had direct service provision, not necessarily by the local authority, but commissioned by the local authority, that could include a number of carers coming into the house, or attending a day centre if it was assessed that the quality of life would be enhanced by attending a day centre, the maximum they would pay at the moment is £55 a week, which is going up to £60 a week this April, or they could have direct payment, which is similar to ILF, because they become an employer, and have the care, as agreed, when it suits them throughout the day.
[105]       Darren Millar: So, what’s the big advantage to this cohort of people who are paid under ILF versus individuals who might be receiving care and support in different ways outside of the ILF scheme?
[106]       Mr Davey: There shouldn’t actually be—
[107]       Darren Millar: There shouldn’t be a disadvantage.
[108]       Mr Davey: A difference.
[109]       Mr Gulliford: I’m not speaking from a position of knowledge here, but I think ILF, when it was first conceived, was only meant to be a short form of funding, but, obviously, when they looked at it they suddenly found there were far more subscribers than they’d anticipated.
[110]       Mr Davey: In a way, it’s a financial pot. We didn’t go for a do-nothing option, and I believe they did in Northern Ireland.
[111]       Mr Gulliford: In Northern Ireland, one of their options was to do nothing—just let the ILF finish in June, and that was it.
[112]       Mr Davey: Obviously, we’re going to get to a point in Wales as well where the number of people in the ILF will eventually be none.
[113]       Mr Gulliford: Could I just explain the process slightly? Somebody getting a personal allowance, as I said, of £340 a week of care from the local authority—that is the trigger point. They then have to be reassessed by ILF. Now, to get ILF you’ve got to be on the higher rate of disability living allowance, day and night care, or the enhanced daily living component of the personal independent payment, which is gradually replacing DLA. So, they reassess them. I think the big difference is, with ILF—sorry, with DLA or PIP—you get the money as a recognition of the impact your disability or your illness has on your daily living. You can spend that any way you want. With ILF, you either have to employ a personal carer or employ a care agency, and then, very similar to direct payments, you become an employer, you’ve got to keep time sheets, NI contributions, holiday pay, maternity pay. So, it’s much more rigid, but it enhances the level of care that they would otherwise get, I suppose.
[114]       Darren Millar: Or you purchase a package of care from a provider who deals with all that.
[115]       Mr Gulliford: Yes, but it’s all accountable. You have to have a separate bank account. So, I suppose, if it’s not the wrong terminology, it’s a top-up on what you could get through your local authority by virtue of the fact of the benefit you’re getting, which recognises the disability you have, which gives you that additional level of care, possibly.
[116]       Darren Millar: But, from what you said earlier—from what both of you said earlier—even under the existing arrangements, people who can’t access ILF because of the cut-off date are still able, and eligible, to receive packages of support that meet their needs, and there’ll be more uniformity in that as a result of the new social services and well-being Act, when all parts of it are enacted.
[117]       Mr Davey: From April this year, yes.
[118]       Mr Gulliford: That’s true, but the difference is the people who get ILF get that additional money on top of—people getting their services through the local authority who also currently get higher rate DLA, or the enhanced daily rate of PIP.
[119]       Darren Millar: Okay. Just explain: what’s the average additional money in addition to the support?
[120]       Mr Gulliford: It’s £355 a week.
[121]       Darren Millar: So, they get an extra £355 a week on top of the cost of their are.
[122]       Mr Gulliford: Well, they get two funding streams—they get the DLA or the PIP, and then that triggers getting ILF. That can be, I think, up to—
[123]       Darren Millar: But the ILF funding is ring-fenced to pay for care and support that they would otherwise be receiving from the local authority under the other arrangements, yes?
[124]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[125]       Darren Millar: Okay. So it’s just replacing stuff with stuff that’s already available.
[126]       Mr Gulliford: I would say it’s in addition.
[127]       Darren Millar: Well, how is it in addition? So, are you suggesting that people on ILF get a better quality and range and breadth of support for their care needs than people under the usual local authority arrangements?
[128]       Mr Gulliford: They have the finance to secure more.
[129]       David Rees: I think the difference, if I am right, is that, as you put it, they have the finance to purchase their package, whereas others will get the package from the local authority.
[130]       Darren Millar: Or they’ll get direct payments from the local authority and be able to purchase the package in the same way as ILF.
[131]       Kirsty Williams: I just wanted to clarify that in my own mind—that you would not have a situation where you would have a recipient of the independent living fund who would also then have a package of care supplied by the local authority?
[132]       Mr Gulliford: No, that triggers it. They’ve got to have at least £340-worth of care from the local authority to trigger, if you like, applying for ILF.
[133]       Kirsty Williams: Okay. So, that would not be what you’ve just said then, Chair.
[134]       David Rees: I think what it says—.
[135]       Alun Davies: This would be in addition to that.
[136]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[137]       Kirsty Williams: Yes. What I’m trying to understand is the impact for this particular group of people, because I think, ultimately, that’s what we’re all concerned about—that we have a cohort of people who are in receipt of this, for whom, from this summer, we’re not quite sure what their support is going to look like. So, I’m trying to understand this in my own head. So, would a constituent, who was being cared for or having services provided by the local authority, either commissioned by them or was in receipt of a direct payment, have ILF on top of that?
[138]       Mr Gulliford: If they were receiving the higher rate care level of DLA, or an enhanced daily component of PIP.
[139]       David Rees: Can I clarify the point? I think what Kirsty’s trying to get to, if I’m right—correct me if I’m wrong—is if a new individual came along now, post-ILF, and identified the fact that their needs are greater than that trigger, those needs, if they were new, would still be funded by the local authority.
[140]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[141]       David Rees: So, in a sense, someone who has previously been assessed and someone who was newly assessed would actually end up having the same type of package, but one would have an ILF package to pay for care and one would have, through the local authority, direct payments or local authority support, if they were newly—. So, if someone’s demands were, let’s say, £400, for argument’s sake, which is above the trigger point, that £400 would still be paid.
[142]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[143]       David Rees: So, in a sense, they shouldn’t be treated any differently.
[144]       Mr Gulliford: I don’t know if this helps, but the maximum ILF funding for group 1 is £815 per week, and for group 2 it’s £475. So, you can see why a lot of local authorities then suggest the service user applies for ILF, on top of the normal welfare benefits they receive, if they are getting those particular rates of benefit from DLA or PIP.
[145]       David Rees: Of the four options, which ones are geared towards conformity and, basically, merging, so that, at some point in the future, everybody’s on the same scheme?
[146]       Mr Gulliford: I would say 2, 3 and 4.
[147]       David Rees: Okay. John.
[148]       John Griffiths: It’s become a bit murky, really, Chair, hasn’t it, in terms of what the advantage is to people who are currently receiving ILF of receiving ILF, set against what they would receive otherwise from the local authority? Is there a difference? I think you were quite clear at one stage, Stephen, in saying that there isn’t a difference, because the package that would be put in place by the local authority would be equal to what people receive under ILF—
[149]       Mr Gulliford: It would, but, obviously, ILF provides additional funding to possibly have a bigger care package than what the local authority recommended.
[150]       Darren Millar: And is that because the eligibility criteria allow them to be eligible for additional care and support that is not available from local authorities?
[151]       Mr Gulliford: Yes. The eligibility criteria of the ILF were set up by a deed trust, as to how it operates, and whilst I don’t know the full details of the full eligibility, it’s always been acknowledged that it’s tougher than the eligibility to receive local authority non-residential care.
[152]       Mr Davey: It might be worth us sending out some examples to the committee
[153]       David Rees: I think it would be very helpful if you could do that.
[154]       Mr Davey: —because this is very complicated offset situation.
[155]       Darren Millar: Yeah. So, a typical individual and the current care and support that they would receive under ILF and how that might differ from direct payments through local authority—.
[156]       John Griffiths: But isn’t it right to say, in terms of the responses and the feedback that you’ve had, that a lot of the concern that people currently receiving ILF have is that were there to be a change that moved it to the local authority, for example, there might be these changes, as I think you’ve mentioned in eligibility criteria, that would, obviously, move the goalposts and potentially disadvantage them. Is that behind a lot of the concerns that exist?
[157]       Mr Gulliford: It is, yes.
[158]       Mr Davey: That’s the uncertainty about what the threshold could be in the future about the protection of the ongoing funding, and views, you know, about whether the money would still come across from the UK Government. These are all the sort of uncertainties that are factoring into this.
[159]       Mr Gulliford: Because they’ve had this static and well-processed system for a number of years and now they’re concerned whether they’ll still have that level of funding, because there’s concern about whether they’d have to reduce the hours of care that their son or their daughter or their wife—whoever’s being cared for—would receive overall because of the funding. Would they have to make their carers redundant? Because they’re an employer, they’ve got to give notification of redundancy. Obviously, it will depend which option we ultimately pursue, but it’s questions like that they are very concerned about because, up until now, from what I gather, speaking to the officials in ILF, it’s run along very smoothly in conjunction with the local authority. The ILF review everybody’s case every two years to see if, obviously, there are changes in between, or there’s a change of circumstance. It all works very smoothly. It’s operated out of one office in Nottingham for all that time for all of Britain, so it works. And any sort of potential disruption, I suppose, given the sensitivity of the service users—they’re over-concerned, if you know what I mean.
[160]       David Rees: Kirsty.
[161]       Kirsty Williams: As you said, my understanding is that, for those in receipt of ILF, it has worked. There have been no problems, it’s been administered very well, there’s been certainty and they’ve, you know, not had to worry about it. With regard to eligibility, would I be correct in saying that the people in receipt of ILF have a very high level of need?
[162]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[163]       Kirsty Williams: So, even if, under the new social services legislation, everybody’s eligibility criteria shoots up—and I think we can all assume that that’s exactly what will happen and it’ll be harder to become eligible for a social services package of care—this particular client group really shouldn’t be affected by that because we are talking about people with very high-end needs anyway. So, they shouldn’t necessarily be caught out by any changes in eligibility criteria at a local government level.
[164]       Mr Davey: No. I would agree. Because they are a higher level of need, I would agree that that is a good supposition.
[165]       Kirsty Williams: Secondly then, the inference seems to be, ‘Well, people don’t need to worry because, if you don’t have this, it could be administered similarly to a direct payment’, but most local authorities have a cap on their hourly rate for direct payments, and there is some concern that the cap that the local authorities place on direct payments actually doesn’t allow you to employ someone, because the levels of direct payments are quite low. Have you done any analysis of the comparison between a direct payment hourly rate and hourly rates that are paid under this scheme? So, I’m trying to think about whether, if this was to go, and somebody was to be moved onto a local government direct payments scheme, they would be receiving less money, and how much less money than what allows them to pay for their care. Most local authorities have a rate of—. It’s £10 something or other in Powys, I think, and that causes some problems in terms of—. Because a domiciliary care agency would probably charge you £12, £13, £14 an hour. I’m trying to get a feel for the difference.
[166]       Mr Davey: That is something that we are currently considering and taking forward.
[167]       Kirsty Williams: Okay.
[168]       Mr Davey: Obviously, you’re correct, we have to look at what those thresholds and caps are.
[169]       Kirsty Williams: Sure, great, thank you.
[170]       David Rees: Are there any other Members with questions? Darren.
[171]       Darren Millar: Can I just check—. I mean, I completely understand the line of questioning that Kirsty’s just pursued, but, under the new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, there will be national eligibility criteria, yes?
[172]       Mr Gulliford: Uh-huh.
[173]       Darren Millar: Will those national eligibility criteria extend to, you know, the rates that are payable for direct payments per hour of care or anything like that? They’ll still be set locally, will they? So, if a local authority was to pay a different hourly care rate for an individual in its local authority area versus the local authority area next door, even though there are national eligibility criteria, there will not be a national price criterion, if you see what I mean.
[174]       David Rees: I think you’ve just identified it. One’s eligibility criteria and one’s.
[175]       Darren Millar: Yeah. I mean, is that the situation?
[176]       Mr Gulliford: Yes.
[177]       Lindsay Whittle: [Inaudible.]—the Assembly Minister’s decision. It says he’ll be making a decision in early 2015. I appreciate that 21 days is quite early into 2015, but do we have any indication of when?
[178]       Mr Davey: My view is I want to do this very quickly. Obviously, we’re planning through these, we’re analysing. As I said, there are about 280 of them and I want to get something out within the next week or two, and then we really are going to work quickly on this, but part of it is making sure that, when we give the options to the Minister, we’re looking at the feasibility, the complexity, the cost and anything else associated with this. I think, as you pointed out, there are some real complexities and issues that we have to dig into out there. Part of it is, you know, the huge range of options and things that could be taken forward. We’ve had to do a sort of general look at that and then really delve into the detail, once we know which option we’re going to take forward.
[179]       Lindsay Whittle: Okay, thank you.
[180]       David Rees: And part of that preparation is actually talking about the arrangements that will be in place, post 1 July, irrespective of which option you’re talking about, because, as identified, some will take longer.
[181]       Mr Davey: For the Government, obviously, one thing that we have to be absolutely sure of is that, whatever happens from 1 July, even if it’s an interim solution, that money will still continue to be paid or that there will be certainty around how we take that forward.
[182]       David Rees: Okay. Just one point—. I will come to you in a minute. The funding, we know what it is for this coming year. Are we aware of whether that will be the same funding or is it going to be a sort of 4.3% reduction, as we are seeing on a regular basis, for the following year? What’s the situation for 2016-17?
[183]       Mr Davey: That’s a good point. Obviously, my colleagues are in discussions with colleagues in Treasury around this and, obviously, at present, we have got no guarantee in terms of future funding.
[184]       David Rees: Okay. Alun, do you want to make a point?
[185]       Alun Davies: Yes, the decision you’re going to be asking the Minister to take is a choice between those four options.
[186]       Mr Davey: Yes.
[187]       Alun Davies: And that will be a final decision to run into implementation?
[188]       Mr Davey: Yes.
[189]       Alun Davies: So, there will be no further consultation and no further conversation about this matter.
[190]       Mr Davey: Unless the Minister wishes to do so, and I have no indication that he has.
[191]       Alun Davies: Okay.
[192]       David Rees: Okay. Anyone else? No. Can I, therefore, thank you very much for the briefing this morning? It’s been very helpful; I think some of us have clarified—. You indicated that you will give us some case studies. Could that be done as quickly as possible, because, obviously, the timescales are short, and we want to be able to respond to the Minister to also help his consideration of the issues?
[193]       Mr Davey: Certainly. We’ll work on that today. Apologies about the complexity about some of this. It is a complex scheme, with a whole range of needs, and we will get some examples to you and sort of work them through, just to explain in a bit more detail.
[194]       David Rees: That would be very helpful. Thank you very much.
[195]       Mr Gulliford: One little issue, on the sort of informal agenda, you did want to know about our engagement with other administrations.
[196]       David Rees: Yes, I did raise in questions, obviously, your engagement with other administrations, because you have already mentioned that you have been talking very much with the ILF in Nottingham, so I’m assuming you’ve been in discussions with the UK Government officials on the process of—
[197]       Mr Gulliford: Yes, we’ve been in touch with the Scottish Government, because, obviously, they’re pursuing an ILF scheme as is, and Northern Ireland have, roughly, the same situation that we have. They have recently finished their consultation; they are currently analysing their responses before they advise their Minister, hopefully, later this month. But Scotland held their consultation in 2013, and so they are sort of quite well advanced, but, going back to what the committee member mentioned about the problems of setting up a body, they are looking into that now, because they’re considering setting up a company limited by guarantee.
[198]       David Rees: Okay—
[199]       Mr Davey: These are considerations that, you know, we would have to take legal advice on.
[200]       Mr Gulliford: But we are liaising with those and we’re updating the stakeholder group as things are evolving and developing.
[201]       David Rees: Okay. Thank you very much for that. You will receive a copy of the transcript for any factual inaccuracies that you spot, and let us know if there are any, please. So, thank you very much for your attendance this morning.
[202]       Mr Davey: Thank you.
Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting
 

Cynnig:

 

Motion:
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi). that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

 

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Motion moved.
[203]       David Rees: Well, in that case, I now propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) that we now resolve to meet in private for items 4 and 5 of this meeting. Is everyone, therefore, content? Okay, thank you very much.

 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:58.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:58.

 

Petitions Committee Minutes #SaveWILG

I just discovered the Senedd Petitions Committee Minutes hiding in my junk mail folder. We have been waiting with baited breath for the verdict of the committee and now it seams they want to hold more talks with various stakeholders before reaching their final verdict.

The full minutes from the meeting can be viewed here. 

The crucial information regarding the #SaveWILG Campaign can be seen below.

***

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

Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care

Gareth Griffiths, Head of Paying for Care, Welsh Government

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Committee heard evidence from Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care

Discussion of Previous Evidence Session – P-05-771 Reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and support disabled people to live independently

Minutes:

Members discussed the evidence session and agreed to seek additional evidence from a range of stakeholders in relation to the subject of the petition.

New Memes #SaveWILG

This might be a bit controversial with some of my comrades, but it is essential that I criticise Welsh Labour for their actions over WILG. The democratic wishes of their members are being ignored and they are about to severely damage disability rights. Now is the time to make a stand and to highlight their lack of humility and humanity to others.

As I said in April: “I appeal to Huw Irranca-Davies to listen to everyone within and outside Welsh Labour; we are all saying the same thing. I do not want to be using what precious time I have left fighting against the hierarchy of the party I love and campaign for. But I will if I have to. Please don’t make me.” 

These memes have been designed and created by Brian Hilton. Everyone at the #SaveWILG campaign would like to sincerely thank him for his continued work on our behalf.

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

ARTICLE TAKEN FROM MORNING STAR

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

21078726_10154722308036363_5534228607813332174_n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postcard Campaign Continues… #SaveWILG

It is time to breathe new life into our #SaveWILG postcard campaign. We already have hundreds of photos and would like to reach out across Britain to ask people to show their solidarity by posing with one of our postcard which can then be posted to the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies.

It is essential that we keep up the pressure and show the Minister the depth of support that we have on this matter. I have added some photos that we took at the Caia Park Environmental Group Fun Day in Wrexham on June 9th.

These provide good examples of the type of photographs we would like. All you need to do is contact me to request a card and I can make sure you get one. All our cards include a message to Huw Irranca-Davies on the reverse and once you have taken photographs then you can pop a second class stamp on them and post it to the Minister. 

Many thanks for your support 🙂

34882860_10217080209297626_3257984426344185856_n

34888968_10217080207777588_8381541623451877376_n

35066189_10217080192777213_1930336556850085888_n

35076809_10217080254018744_4758313745191534592_n

35123428_10217080203017469_5956304063917195264_n

35156900_10217080210617659_4174303333734940672_n

There’s No Other Way #SaveWILG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fight continues …

Response from Huw Irranca-Davies to Open Letter #SaveWILG

Same old story…

***

4 June 2018

Dear Nathan,

Thank you for sending the link to your blog https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com
on which you have posted an open letter to me, dated 10 May 2018, seeking my support to retain the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). I was also grateful for the opportunity to meet you at your home earlier in the year, and to discuss your concerns with you in detail. I reiterate again that the Welsh Government is firmly committed
to ensuring a smooth transition from the temporary WILG to the new arrangements, as
agreed with the stakeholder advisory group, and to ensure the focus at all times is on the
well-being and independent-living outcomes of every individual.

I note what you say about the information you have received from local authorities about their experience of the transition process to transfer people’s future support to their social services provision. You will understand that without sight of this information it is not possible for me to comment, and I would therefore be grateful if you could pass  any information on to me. However, I can report on progress on the transition to date, and the feedback we have received from local authorities through the periodic monitoring of the transition.

As of 31 March this year local authorities have reported they have completed, or are in the process of completing, around 1,000 of the reviews they need to undertake as part of this process. These are to agree people’s well-being outcomes and how they can be met in
future. As a result, around 400 people have now gone on to receive their support from their local authority – nearly a third of the total number of 1,250 who were receiving ILF payments as at 31 March.

In terms of outcomes, authorities report that a large number of those now receiving their
support from their local authority are receiving support similar to that they received from the ILF. Some people are receiving a slightly different level of support than previously and this includes people whose level of support has increased. Overall, local authorities inform us that no major concerns have been raised about the support received. Clearly there will be some individual circumstances where people will be uneasy about the nature and level of the support their authority considers appropriate in their case, but where this has occurred authorities are discussing this with the person concerned.

Local authorities providing support in this way is, of course, not new, as most individuals
would have had to receive this from their authority as part of the eligibility to receive ILF payments. Implementing this change in a managed approach, with the two-year transition period we have put in place, has ensured there is an appropriate period of time in which individuals can consider and agree their well-being outcomes with their authority, and agree all of the support they require to deliver these outcomes, not just the support they previously obtained through their ILF payments. To facilitate this, the funding of £27 million a year, which is provided by the UK Government for this purpose, has been distributed in its entirely to local authorities on the basis of the level of grant funding they previously received. This is to ensure they have the level of funding they require to maintain payments to people while their future support package is agreed and provided, following which this funding can be used to meet the cost of that support package.

Let me turn to matters you raise in respect of the stakeholder advisory group. This group
was established by the then Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM,
with the purpose of agreeing a way forward following the temporary two-year transition
period. The group comprised of representatives of Disability Wales, the Dewis Centre for
Independent Living and the All Wales Forum; a service user’s parent; and representatives from local authorities and the Welsh Local Government Association.

As I advised the Chair of the Petitions Committee, David J Rowlands AM, in my letter to him of 14 November last year, which I believe you have seen, no formal minutes of the meetings of the stakeholder advisory group which considered this issue were made. Instead short summary emails were sent to members setting out agreed action points arising from meetings.

The advisory group considered a number of potential options to provide future support.
These ranged from perpetuating the WILG indefinitely, or for a set period of time, to
establishing similar arrangements in Wales to that of the ILF outside of local authorities’
provision. The advantages and disadvantages of each option were considered, in terms of its effectiveness to support people who had previously received ILF payments and its fit with supporting the larger group of disabled people in Wales who had been excluded by the UK Government from receiving support from the ILF following its closure to new entrants in 2010.

There was a fine balance between these issues and on occasions members had slightly
differing opinions on the potential options. Nevertheless, the stakeholder advisory group on balance favoured the option of future support being provided by local authorities as part of their social care provision. This it considered was, overall, the best way forward for individuals and the most effective way of utilising the limited funding available for their direct benefit. It also acknowledged that this matched the support other disabled people in Wales were already receiving and was in keeping with our person-centred ethos for social care being delivered through the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. It therefore removes the inequitable two-tier approach which existed, with some disabled people receiving only support from their local authority while others could receive this in addition to dedicated payments from the ILF. At the time of this decision, and indeed since, no member of the group or any organisation represented on it has indicated they disagreed with the advice given to the then Minister upon which he made his decision.

I am happy to agree to your request to meet to discuss matters relating to the WILG. I met you earlier in the year to hear your concerns, as outlined again in your open letter, and to explain how this decision was reached and the future action I am taking. It would be good to follow up on that earlier discussion. My Diary Secretary is, I believe, already in contact with you to arrange the details of this. In the meantime, I would be grateful if you would post this reply to your letter on your blog.

Yours sincerely,
Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM
Y Gweinidog Plant, Pobl Hyn a Gofal Cymdeithasol
Minister for Children, Older People & Social Care