Jeremy Corbyn

Letter from Ken Skates AM #SaveWILG

This letter has been sent to a number of #SaveWILG  campaigners from Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates who has represented the constituency of Clwyd South since the National Assembly for Wales election of 2011. I don’t know why I am bothering sharing this nonsense, but if you don’t read it yourself then you wont believe the inaccuracies that are being pedalled by the Welsh Government.

It is an interesting aside that this is the man who I worked with at the Evening Leader In the late nineties. I would read and sub edit his work and we both went on a jolly to Legoland, Windsor when I was asked to review the theme park. I drove there while he slept in the passenger seat, now he is defending Welsh Labour for copying the Tories of Westminster and basically selling me down the river. What ever he says, the same will happening Wales as is happening in England. Maybe he actually believes that Welsh Labour are doing the right thing by closing WILG, but I am actually living with the consequences of the end of a three way triangular structure to care and support and I can assure him that it is a living nightmare.

Before you read the letter, which I will reply to if I ever get the chance, I must try to express my frustrations with life at the moment. I am really struggling to type at all, at a time when I need to write so many emails and letters. My diary is jam packed but I don’t have enough care and support to attend all the appointments that I have. I am stressed and worried about the future while I sit in loneliness and desperation with a puddle of piss on the bathroom floor after dropping my urinal. I have to wait for support to arrive to clear this up.

I want to assure Ali Granger, Andrew Ranger, Paul Swann and Liz Lefroy that I will respond to their emails ASAP.

I will finish this blog with a humorous observation. I was incredulous when I received an email from Welsh Labour who where offering signed Jeremy Corbyn bags as a prize in a fundraising drive. You couldn’t make it up. Welsh Labour have a track record of distancing themselves from JC, but here they are exploiting an opportunity to profit from the popularity of the Labour leader. The Labour manifesto actually proposes a return to a three tiered care system, which the powers that be in Cardiff are doing their best to destroy.

Bedtime now, but here is the letter from Ken Skates. I wonder who sub-edited it…

 

Dear XXXX
 
Thank you for taking the time to contact me recently on this important issue.
 
The Conservative UK Government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015 and the Welsh Labour Government subsequently established the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) as an interim scheme administered by local councils to ensure people receiving payments through the ILF continued to do so. The Minister for Social Service and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, extended the transitional scheme last year until March 31 this year in order to develop longer-term arrangements in consultation with organisations representing people with disabilities.
 
WILG was only ever meant to be a short-term measure to provide continuity of support for former recipients of ILF. The UK Government provided a transfer of £27m a year to meet the cost of providing this interim support, but this leaves no scope to fund a change in people’s needs, any changes in the cost of the support they require or for operating any scheme to support them. Such costs, therefore, need to be taken out of this funding at the expense of care for all.
 
The Minister looked at a range of options for long-term support that ensures people with disabilities in receipt of WILG continue to receive support to meet the additional costs of living independently in the community. In doing so, it became clear that continuing with a separate scheme outside of normal social services provision would not be appropriate. This is because it would continue the inequity of some disabled people receiving their support from their local authority, while others receive specific WILG payments in addition to the support they receive from their council. It was also felt that continuing with a separate scheme had the potential of becoming unsustainable in the longer-term as the money provided for it by the UK Government was fixed at £27m a year so the value of payments through the scheme would gradually diminish. In addition, this fixed sum does not take into account costs associated with changes in a person’s needs and would not be enough to meet the needs of those who receive it.
 
Rebecca Evans concluded that future support through normal social care provision via local authorities would be the most effective approach as it ensures that funding is used to provide support to recipients rather than being used disproportionately towards operating costs of a separate scheme as is currently the case. This approach addresses the issue of equality for all people with disabilities in receipt of social care support in Wales while making the best use of finite resources.
 
The Welsh Government recognises that some recipients would have preferred a different decision and is aware of concerns about the way in which a transfer to local authorities has worked in England. The Welsh Government has looked closely at developments in England and has learned lessons about what not to do. Funding for the WILG will continue in its current format until 2018-19, when it will transfer to councils. During this time, local authorities will meet with recipients of WILG and their representatives to identify the outcomes they are seeking to achieve and agree a package of support with them. Once this support is available, it will be provided to help people live independently instead of the payments previously received and the expectation is that by March 31, 2019 all WILG recipients will receive their support in this way. Recipients of WILG will only move into the new arrangements when the support they require is available.
 
Once again, thank you for contacting me on this issue. I fully understand why some of my constituents want the scheme to continue, but hope that the information provided will reassure you that the Welsh Government is not simply copying what the UK Government did in England and is putting in place a long-term solution which is fair to all disabled people who receive support from their local authority. This will ensure that they continue to live as independently as possible in their own homes. Please be assured that I will continue to raise your views with the Minister for Social Services and Public Health in all relevant discussions.
 
 
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything I can help with in the future.
 
 
Best wishes,
 
 
Ken
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Writing to local newspapers…

I have written the following letter to a number of local newspapers across Wales, urging the Welsh Government to reconsider their decision to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).The campaign for justice continues…

If you wish to write a letter in support of this campaign, use the following emails:

This is the email that I fired off in the hope that people will read it and take notice of what is going on. It is worth a go.

 

I am writing as a recipient of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and a disability activist who intends on asking Welsh Labour to reconsider their decision to close WILG as of April 2019. This payment was introduced to help people who previously claimed from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed in 2015.

WILG 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.

Something needs to be done as our disabled friends in England have suffered under a similar system that has seen local authorities being solely responsible for their care and support since 2015. This cannot be allowed to happen in Wales as well. Disabled people must organise themselves and demand to be listened to.

The Welsh Government said the decision was taken on stakeholder advice. The majority of representatives on the stakeholder group were third sector or citizens who didn’t want WILG scrapped. The key point is that the advice of disabled people was ignored.

This is the time to fight back as Welsh Labour are basking in the glory of Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the recent General Election. The prevailing mood has changed and Welsh Labour have apparently made a significant shift to the left. Surely, Welsh Labour will want to distance themselves from a decision that mirrors the one made by the Tory Government in 2010?

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?

They 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. 

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…

There are a number of ways that WILG recipients, family members and personal assistants can help to make a difference. Those concerned can sign the petition that has currently received almost 250 signatures, take part in the postcard campaign that is being orchestrated across social media and put pen to paper to their local AM. To find out more about these projects, please contact Nathan Lee Davies at nathandavies01@hotmail.com or search Facebook for the Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) page. Twitter users can find me on @nathanleedavies or you can find all the information about this campaign on my blog at https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your time.

Nathan Lee Davies, Wrexham

Call Out To Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) Recipients

I am writing as a recipient of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and a disability activist who intends on asking Welsh Labour to reconsider their decision to close WILG as of April 2019. I would like to hear from other WILG recipients in the hope of holding a series of public/virtual meetings to discuss how we can best oppose this closure and create a pressure group to support each other through this worrying time.

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.

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.

Something needs to be done as our disabled friends in England have suffered under a similar system that has seen local authorities being solely responsible for their care and support since 2015. This cannot be allowed to happen in Wales as well. We must organise ourselves and demand to be listened to.

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.​

This is the time to fight back as Welsh Labour are basking in the glory of Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the recent General Election. The prevailing mood has changed, Teresa May has ended austerity and Welsh Labour have made a significant shift to the left. Surely, Welsh Labour will want to distance themselves from a decision that mirrors that made by the Tory Government?

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?

They 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.​ 

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…

WILG recipients who wish to help make a difference should contact nathandavies01@hotmail.com

Further reading is available below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-38385381?SThisFB

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/welsh-government-has-sold-disabled-people-down-the-river-on-post-ilf-plans/

Stars in my Eyes

It’s just another typical weekend where I enjoy spending my time wallowing in self-pity and bemoaning the structure of our couple-centric society.  My loneliness helps create a vile bitterness that I try to harness and turn into a positive creativity, whether this works or not is for readers of my book and this blog to decide.

I definitely have a “glass half empty” outlook, but deep down – below the negative surface – I know how lucky I am compared to many other people.  Once in a while, I am reminded of this in no uncertain terms and I find it to be quite humbling.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a birthday card and signed photograph from Jeremy Corbyn.  The card was a little late in arriving, but I didn’t mind because someone I admire greatly had taken the time to send me his best wishes. I think this is a measure of the man as even though he must have a hectic schedule in trying to fight the Tories, he still found a minute to congratulate me on my 40th birthday.

***

Cerys Matthews has been a very important figure in my life.

In 1999, I had a car crash in Huddersfield while listening to Road Rage by Cerys’ band Catatonia.   To read the full story of my accident in West Yorkshire, simply click here.  Then in 2008, I went to watch Cerys, who was now a solo artist, perform a concert in Llangollen while my wife at the time went to Birmingham to meet an old friend.

It was a great concert and Cerys was absolutely sensational.  I still have fond memories of that evening even though my ex-wife later admitted that she had been snogging the face off her old friend.  It’s a pity she couldn’t see what me and Cerys had got up to in my dreams.

In 2010, I went to see Cerys perform again in Glyndwr University and was annoyed to find out that my sister had stayed behind and met Cerys while I rushed home to placate my newly employed Personal Assistant.  I hope I will get the chance to meet her again soon.

Therefore, imagine my surprise and delight when I received a parcel from none other than Cerys Matthews that included two signed albums and a note apologising for the late arrival.  I was overjoyed to receive this and I will treasure these gifts, from such a talented beauty, always.

However, the real star of the show is none other than my good friend Valerie Leney who organised my celebrity surprises.  I am also going to watch Stoke City against Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on April 8 thanks to Valerie contacting Eddie Niedzwiecki – former Wrexham goalkeeper and Stoke City coach – and encouraging him to mark my birthday with an unforgettable surprise.

I am lucky to have a friend like this.  Valerie is such a special person that I am fortunate enough to have in my life.  Indeed, the biggest achievement of my time at the University of Nottingham was not achieving a 2:1 in American Studies or spending a semester in the University of Illinois, but making such a close circle of friends that I am still in touch with.  These people helped me to enjoy my 40th birthday celebrations and reunited especially for the occasion.  This will no doubt serve as a constant reminder that when the chips are down, I can always rely on the bonds I created over 20 years ago…

Message to disabled people regarding Owen Smith MPs Leadership bid

I have copied this statement from Liza Van Zyl, a disability rights activist who has highlighted the Tory-lite mantra of Owen Smith MP who wants to get Labour elected at any cost, even if this means morphing into a right-wing media whore with no substance. Surely victory without principle is no victory at all?

‘Owen Smith needs to be challenged robustly on his position on the Work Capability Assessment and on his commitment to disabled people’s rights. I was a Labour Party activist who had no choice but to resign from the party after a very unpleasant encounter with Mr Smith. I am recounting it now because I believe it is very important that his views are robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership.

On Saturday 7th March 2015 I attended a Labour meeting in Pontypridd at which the guest speaker was Owen Smith MP, then shadow secretary of state for Wales. When questions were invited from the floor, I asked Mr Smith why, given that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been responsible for a great many more deaths than the Bedroom Tax, Labour had pledged to scrap the Bedroom Tax but had said nothing about pledging to scrap the WCA. Mr Smith replied that Labour could not pledge to scrap the WCA because this would make Labour appear weak on benefits in the eyes of the media and compromise Labour’s general-election chances.

I posted this on Facebook and a journalist took it up and posted the story online. Subsequently the journalist was threatened with legal action by Mr Smith if he did not take the story down. I was very intimidated by the prospect of defending myself in court, and I had no money for a legal defence. In addition my Labour colleagues were terribly keen to maintain good relations with Mr Smith and would probably have backed Mr Smith and not me if it came to a court case (one of them had even contacted the journalist and briefed against me). So I asked the journalist to pull the story and I deleted references to it on Facebook.

I am publicising this incident now because I am very concerned about Mr Smith’s attitude toward disabled people and particularly to his views that the deaths of disabled people are less important than Labour’s “tough on benefits” standing in the right wing press. If he threatens me with legal action again it will be incredibly stressful and will probably exacerbate my disability-related ill-health. But I believe it is important that Mr Smith’s attitudes to the WCA and to disability rights (and freedom of speech!) be robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership. And because we should be able to discuss things that profoundly impact on us, like the WCA, without being intimidated into silence by threats of legal action. I will provide more details to journalists who can contact me at lvanzyl55@gmail.com

Appalling behaviour by a candidate for the leadership of a supposed DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST PARTY

Let’s be clear that New Labour are just as dangerous to disabled people, and the disadvantaged in general, as it was Gordon Brown’s administration that kick-started the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2009. They closed this fund to new applicants and did not have a alternative plan to allow disabled people to employ PAs and live in their communities independently. The Tories eventually closed ILF in 2015 and left disabled people fighting for their rights.

Who was the most prominent MP campaigning alongside disabled people against their oppressors? Jeremy Corbyn of course. Says it all really and it is up to us to make sure that British politics has a true left-wing alternative to the repressive right…

Message of support to Jeremy Corbyn

A few weeks ago I emailed Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts after she called for assistance with a report she is writing on the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The aim is in particular to highlight the problems people are experiencing, but also the post code lottery in the very different ways different LAs are handling the closure from ring-fencing to cuts. Ellen also wanted to highlight problems with the administration of social care and personal budgets by local authorities.

I was happy to help and volunteered to share my personal experiences since the cruel closure of the ILF over 12 months ago. In our emails, I discussed my dismay at the way the world is going with the EU debacle, Teresa May leading the Conservatives and the Labour Party in self-destruct mode instead of giving their support to their democratically elected leader.

Apparently, my email triggered something in Ellen’s brain – the need for a Disabled people’s rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn. A rally was quickly organised for deaf and disabled people to support Corbyn. Ellen wanted me to get to London as the idea for the event came from my email, but sadly I was unable to make it due to the short notice. Nevertheless, I still wrote a message of support for Jeremy Corbyn, which I have printed below and may adapt slightly to send to the local right-wing newspaper.

I am not sure if the message was read out or not. I will ask Ellen and report back, but it is good to be contributing to the good fight in some small way.

 

I just wanted to add my support for Jeremy Corbyn from my base in north Wales. I am sorry I cannot be there this evening but I am their in spirit with the rest of my comrades. It is difficult to sum up how important this new brand of inclusive politics is to those of us who often feel abandoned and isolated on the edges of a cruel right-wing society.

I have been particularly hurt by the closure of the Independent Living Fund as I have a progressive disability that means my needs will increase over time. I am still stuck with the same limited hours of care that I was given six years ago with little hope of receiving an increase in the near future. This often means being left alone during the afternoon which can lead to numerous accidents through no fault of my own. I shouldn’t have to live like this and I am doing all I can to ensure that no one has to suffer such indignities and barriers to independent living.

This is our chance to make far-reaching changes in our society and the vast majority of the disabled community support Jeremy Corbyn to deliver this positive change, as you have supported us in our countless battles against the Tories. We will return that loyalty and support you until the end. You can count on that.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr John McDonnell and your good self for providing disabled activists such as myself with the hope. Hope that we can defeat the Tories, hope that we can build a fairer society and most of all the hope that one day we can achieve full equality under a new type of politics.

Thank you.

Nathan Lee Davies

As long as we beat the English

stereophonics-1000-2

I should be on cloud nine. Wales have reached the semi-finals off Euro 2016 and I have tickets to watch Stereophonics performing at the Racecourse. I didn’t think anything like this would happen in my lifetime, but why did it have to happen now when my thirst for celebration is so low?

A lot of things are going on at the moment. Obviously, I am still gutted about Brexit and the consequences that this will undoubtedly have on my life, the implosion of the Labour Party over the future of their democratically elected Leader is also a cause for concern, while the progression of my genetic disease is causing great concern.

To be honest, I would have sooner have seen the UK remain in the EU and Wales suffer humiliation in qualification. This is something that I am used to and I am at a loss to know what to do when Wales are playing so well. Oh, how I long for the days of shit Welsh football under Bobby Gould when at least I could move about easier on crutches and throw a pint glass at the TV when we lost 5-0 in some Eastern European country. I cant even hold a glass nowadays.

My crippled body does frustrate me, but I think that the worse thing about living with a disability is the loneliness that it brings. Everyone seems to be partnered up except me and all of my best friends live hundreds of miles away (maybe that’s why they are still my friends). On top of this my best mate in Wrexham has just put his house on the market and is planning a move to the Wirral.

Apologies for being so glum when everyone else is so happy, but that’s the way it is at the moment. After all, it was the Stereophonics who said:

“As long as we beat the English, we don’t care”

We didn’t and I do care, but I just don’t feel like celebrating at the moment…

***

I just got back from the gig. It was a satisfactory way to spend a Saturday. I thought the second support act, Pretty Vicious, were the outstanding performers of the day. I was a little disappointed in the Stereophonics as I feel they were better on the previous three occasions that I have seen them.

I was impressed with the massive stage erected in the Racecourse Ground and it was a good atmosphere, but I was again hindered by Ataxia, especially in terms of my hearing. I did not like having to watch couples canoodling and am uncomfortable with joining in with a compulsory mass celebration. Individualism is what I was missing.

I wish I could stop thinking and just relax, but then I wouldn’t be me.