Independent Living Fund

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.

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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Summary: The Council was at fault in its reassessments of the complainant, after his Independent Living Fund had been withdrawn.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 

 

 

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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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.

 

Pressure grows to keep disability living grant #SaveWILG

Taken from the Plaid Wrecsam blog with sincere thanks.  

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 AM Llyr Gruffydd 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.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, 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

Closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant: In the cause of equality of provision for disabled people? #SaveWILG

The following article was written by Ann James and Luke Clements. It appears on their superbly informative website which can be viewed here.

We would like to thank Ann and Luke for their research and work in putting together such a comprehensive report.

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Local authorities in Wales are rushing to meet the new September deadline, set by the
Minister for Health, for the re-assessment of the 1,300 or more recipients of the Welsh
Independent Living Grant (WILG). In November 2016 the Welsh Government (following in the footsteps of the English Government) announced the closure of the WILG.

The transfer of care and support of all recipients to local authority provision has been
contentious and has left many recipients anxious and fearful that their right to Independent Living will be eroded by this decision. A strident campaign has been launched by recipients of the WILG (and the previous Independent Living Fund (ILF)) and their families and supporters under the campaign banner of #SWILG.

Closure of the Wales Independent Living Grant

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was established by the Department of Health and
Social Security in 1988 as an independent trust to provide a weekly payment to a
small number of severely disabled people who would have suffered very significant
financial loss as a result of the abolition of supplementary benefits ‘additional
requirements’ payments in that year.4 It is however thought that about one million
disabled people experienced considerable losses as a result of the 1988 changes.

The ILF existed in various forms until it was closed by the Department for Works and
Pensions to new applications in December 2010,  at which time it was providing support
to 46,000 people with complex needs to live in the in the community.7 At that time the UK
Government argued that it was an unsustainable cost; that it perpetuated an unfair funding of services to disabled people; that distribution of ILF was inconsistent across the four nations and within the four nations; and that the advent of direct payments and individual budgets in England obviated the need for ILF.8 The ILF closed in June 2015 and the funding was devolved to English local authorities and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments

The WILG was set up in 2015 following a consultation exercise and gave the Welsh
Government a period of moratorium to decide on how to proceed
.
The options before the Minister were:

• the extension of current arrangements;
• an arrangement with a third party to continue to provide payments to recipients in
Wales, and;
• to transfer the responsibility and funding to local authorities in Wales over a two-year
transitional period so as to eventually provide support through nIn November 2016, it was announced that the WILG would close in March 2019 and that all recipients would be assessed by their Local Authority for care and support under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act (SSWBA) 2014 by March 2018. The March deadline was extended to–September 2018 to enable local authorities to complete their assessments of WILG recipients.

The #SaveWILG campaigning group led by Nathan Davies continue to fight a vigorous campaign to persuade Welsh Government to retain the WILG and grow the provision in a similar fashion to Scotland.

The Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out in advance of the closure decision in Wales conveys a Panglossian view, that is to say an overly optimistic view of what the 2014 Act will deliver following the closure of the WILG in 2019.  It also fails to acknowledge and consider the potential adverse effect on individuals who may have significant changes to provision and how this will be addressed to ensure the recipients right to Independent Living.

The rational for the closure of the WILG is in keeping with the UK Government’s arguments for the closure of the ILF. Welsh Government argues that:

  • the continuation of the WILG will perpetuate a ‘two tier’ system of provision and that this is unfair on those who receive care and support solely through their local authority.
  • the cost of maintaining a Welsh version of the Independent Living Fund is financially unsustainable as money devolved to Wales from the UK Government’s closure does not have the capacity to respond to future need of recipients nor allow for the opening of the WILG to new applicants.
  • the SSWBA 2014 and Direct Payment provision will enable and support independent living and that the need for a discrete fund is not required.

 

Transition from the WILG to local authority provision: are there messages from England?

The analysis and studies of the impact of the closure on ILF in England are bound to give concern to WILG recipients in Wales. The Shakespeare and Porter 2016 study, which focused on the impact of the transition from ILF to local authority support, found high levels of concern and anxiety about Local Authority processes and provision during this period. The Department of Work and Pensions Post-Closure Review,found both positive and negative experiences of the transition. Those who had retained their provision or had an increase in provision or a slight reduction reported satisfaction without any loss to their independence. For those who had experienced a significant reduction there was a loss of independence, greater restrictions to their independence and an increased reliance on unpaid carers. There was also a concomitant impact on the emotional and physical health of these participants.

An emerging theme from the research and reviews is the post-code lottery faced by previous recipients of ILF. The finding in Inclusion London’s  review confirmed this factor and found in addition inconsistent practice in relation to NHS Continuing Health Care (NHS CHC) referrals for funding and failings in the implementation of the Care Act 2014 which left services users without essential provision.

Many disabled people who will be transiting from the WILG will be legally eligible for NHS CHC funding or at least NHS joint funding. In addition to the well-documented procedural hurdles they encounter in obtaining this support, in Wales a more troubling challenge exists.  The Welsh Government has made it clear that it will not permit direct payments to be made for people eligible for NHS CHC (unlike in England such payments can be made.  Many LHBs appear reluctant to facilitate direct payments via a trust arrangement (often referred to as an Independent User Trust (IUT)) even though the High Court has held this to be lawful (indeed necessary in certain situations).

Anecdotally it is also reported that LHBs are placing obstacles in direct payments being made where there is a joint funding arrangement even though the Framework guidance makes it clear that where ‘an individual has existing Direct Payment arrangements, these should continue wherever and for as long as possible within a tailored joint package of care’.

 

Concluding Comments

About 1,300 people will transfer from the WILG to local authority care and support under the SSWBA 2014 by March 2019. Many of the recipients and their carers are concerned that their right to Independent Living will be compromised as local authorities re-assess and establish their eligibility to services.

The R (CWR) v Flintshire County Council (2018) Case Note illustrates the challenges that a disabled person and his/her family can face in Wales as they seek to access care and support. This case note does however, highlight the statutory requirements for a comprehensive assessment of disabled people in need of care and support and their carers. It demonstrates too, that assessments undertaken in a cavalier manner can be challenged and local authorities held accountable for their assessment, determination of eligibility and care provision. This may provide some reassurance to WILG recipients although it is perhaps questionable how many will have the energy, knowledge and courage to pursue this option.

While the term ‘well-being’ may be used in a perfunctory manner in discussion about social care, the definition in section 2 SSWBA 2014 is comprehensive and includes control over day to day life (s.2(4) (a)) and participation in work (s.2(4)(b)).

Clements notes that section 6(3)(b) stresses ‘the importance of promoting the adult’s independence where possible’ and argues that this is amplified and bolstered by para 56 of the Part 2 Code of Practice (General Function) which states that the well-being duty ‘includes key aspects of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People in particular Article 19 which recognizes the right of disabled people to ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’; to choose where they live and with whom they live; and to have access to a range of community support services ‘to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community’. Assessment, eligibility determinations and decisions on how to meet need will need to be infused by these principles.

R (JF) v. Merton LBC highlighted the requirement for an assessment to have regard to the dimensions of well-being set out in stature.

A comprehensive overview of assessment, eligibility and meeting needs can be found at www.lukeclements.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Wales-SS-Well-being-Act-26.pdf page 9.

This ‘post’, written by Ann James and Luke Clements, appears in Rhydian: Wales Social Welfare Law on-line (2018) 23-26: to access this click here.

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Plaid Cymru AM Issues Statement of Opinion #SaveWILG

Plaid Cymru AM, Llyr Gruffydd has released the following Statement of Opinion to the delight of everyone working on the #SaveWILG campaign:

OPIN-2018-0094 The future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant
Tabled on 18/06/2018

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.

Subscribers

Adam Price – Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Sian Gwenllian – Arfon

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A Statement of Opinion on a matter affecting Wales may be tabled by any Member other than a member of the government; and any such Statement may be supported, opposed or otherwise subject to comment in writing by any other Member. Statements of Opinion are published on the Assembly website but there is no Assembly decision on them.