Local Authorities

Letter to WILG recipients from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM #SaveWILG

All WILG recipients – and their families – should be alerted to the following letter, which explains what happens next in the WILG transition process. This is particularly important for those of us who are unhappy with the level of support we’re receiving from local authorities. I am happy that we have made further progress, but now is not the time to celebrate. We have to make sure that local authorities implement the instructions that they have received from the Welsh Government.

An official response from the #SaveWILG Campaign to this letter will follow after the Easter break.

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To: All former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) – Update

As we reach the end of the two years where people who used to receive payments from the WILG have been transferring to local council support, I would like to share an important update with you.

Since 2017 local councils have met nearly all people who used to receive WILG payments and agreed with them what care and support they will receive in future to help them live independently. Some people will now be having all their support arranged by their local council and others will be receiving direct payments so they can purchase this support themselves.

For the vast majority of people their new care and support is similar to what they had using their WILG payments. In some cases it has increased, to support their ability to live independently.

For a small number of people, the new package of care and support is smaller than what they had previously received through WILG. This can be for a range of good reasons, for example where people’s needs are still being met but just in a different way. We know from our enquiries that many people are content with the new support they are receiving, even when that package of care is smaller than before.

However, some people disagree with the outcome of their local council’s assessment. Everyone in Wales deserves support to live independently. As a result I have concluded that people who used to receive the WILG and now disagree with their council’s assessment of their care needs should have the option of having their needs looked at again by an independent person.

If you agree with the package of care and support from your local council, then this update does not affect you and you do not need to respond in any way.

However, if you disagree with the outcome of your new care arrangement, please contact your local council to ask for an independent assessment. Or if you have not started or completed your assessment yet, and would prefer for this to be done independently rather than by your local council, please also let your local council know about that. In either case, if you would like an independent assessment please let your council know by Friday 14 June 2019, at the latest. Your current care will remain unchanged until after the independent assessment has been completed.

The Welsh Government will be paying for these independent assessments and meeting the cost of any additional care and support a person might need as a result of them. Because of this, for people who used to receive WILG, while care arrangements may change in order to better meet people’s needs, this should not be in order to make any savings.

I do not want people to be waiting for an independent assessment. However, it is important to organise these independent assessments properly, so that they meet the required standards. We plan to have the arrangements for the independent assessments in place by the end of June so as to begin these from July onwards. Your patience, therefore, will be appreciated, while the details are worked out.

Julie Morgan AC/AM
Y Dirprwy Weinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

Direct Payments Guide Issued by Social Care Wales

Many thanks to Rosemary Burslem for drawing my attention to the following guide to Direct Payments, which has been published by Social Care Wales. It can be read in full by clicking here. 

This is a very illuminating guide, which clearly shows that Direct Payments can be used for other things as well as support from personal assistants.

“Myth 3 Direct payments are only for employing PAs

The great thing about direct payments is the opportunity to be creative. Employing a PA is one of many options to meet an individual’s personal well-being outcomes. For example, direct payments can be used to buy equipment, pay for activities to reduce loneliness, isolation or to develop confidence or gym membership or transport to access community facilities.”

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The Dewis website- see: https://www.dewis.wales/using-direct-payments says:

“Social activities

You can spend your money on social activities, evening classes and even holidays if they are in your care plan. Direct payments can also help if you want to do paid work or a training course.

Equipment and minor home adaptations

If you need special equipment or minor home adaptations an amount to cover these things might be included in your direct payments.

Special equipment might include computers, mobility aids, safety devices, transfer aids and assistive technology.”

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It is clear that Direct Payments are intended to improve choice, control and independence for people. This is further evidence of the appalling practices of Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC), who have done everything in their power to discourage DP recipients from spending their money on things that they are clearly entitled to. I believe that WCBC view that DP’s can only be used to pay for support is not in line with the ethos of the law on Direct Payments. When drawing up Care Plans with people who have chosen to have DPs Social Workers and clients should be allowed to be creative in how this funding is spent, as in the examples above.

Those of us who do receive Direct Payments throughout Wales should read the article provided by Social Care Wales, and remember that we are in control of the money we receive and as long as it is spent responsibly and appropriately, then there is little that Local Authorities can object to.

Statement on the Welsh Independent Living Grant transition

Following the Welsh Government’s announcement on February 12th that they were pausing the WILG transition and allowing all WILG recipients to recruit an independent social worker to work alongside clueless local authorities, there has been little obvious progress.

There is much going on behind the scenes as the Welsh Government work around the clock to establish a new policy.  I have received several encouraging and reassuring emails from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services as well as the civil servants who are working flat out to assist disabled people with high support needs and their families.

Of course, it is going to take time to implement the new system.  This is something that many of us cannot afford, but now is not the time to be critical of the Welsh Government – who have listened and are making the appropriate changes.

WILG recipients should all be receiving a letter from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan to explain the next steps in the reassessment process.  Let us hope that we receive this letter sooner rather than later as many of us are continuing to struggle.  We have won a huge battle, but there is little reason to celebrate at the moment and we have to remain patient while continuing to struggle for a few more weeks or months.

This is precious time we are wasting, but we cannot forget the huge strides we have made and have faith that the Welsh Government are doing what they can to help transform our lives under 21st Century Socialism.

We are so close to our goal and we must make sure such mistakes are never allowed to happen again…

The Dreams In Which I’m Dying…

The following blog includes songs by Gary Jules (Mad World) and John Farnham (You’re the Voice). I am not claiming any artistic influence on these songs at all.

I was watching Murder Made Me Famous on the Really Channel at some godforsaken hour last week as I tried to keep my eyes open and delay the uncomfortable hours that were sure to follow.

This particular episode concerned the crimes of Reverend Jim Jones –  an American religious cult leader who, along with his inner circle, initiated a mass suicide and mass murder in JonestownGuyana.

It really is a fascinating tragedy and I encourage everyone to read more about the Peoples Temple as only by learning lessons from the past can we hope to build a brighter future for everyone…

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Things have changed a lot in the past forty years, but I still fear that mass murderers such as Reverend Jim Jones exist, albeit in different forms.

It has been a long weekend full of three draining panic attacks. The lack of support and information from Local Authorities in relation to Welsh Independent Living Grant recipients is really affecting both my mental and physical well-being. Two of the panic attacks were brought on by madly rushing to use the loo as the urge to relieve myself comes on all of a sudden. My body is unable to react quickly enough, so accidents do happen.

I also suffered an attack before going to bed on Friday night, as I can almost predict the hours of discomfort, pain and panic that lie ahead during lonely nights without support. I am a born fighter – and I do not have any plans to slow down – but the pressures being put upon me are becoming increasingly difficult to cope with,  as my progressive disability continues to eat away at my nervous system.

I require 24/7 support NOW if I am to continue living independently and contribute to my local community. This is not something that I want for selfish reasons, but simply something that I NEED.

I found the following article to be very illuminating and it is certainly something that I can relate to. It was written by Mike Sivier from Vox Political and can be read by following this link.

It seems that poor and vulnerable people are still being controlled and manipulated today, in a way that Reverend Jim Jones would be proud of.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that the Welsh Government have listened to #SaveWILG campaigners and are now acting accordingly. I have received encouraging emails from ministers and civil servants who are working on implementing a new policy to protect independent living for WILG recipients.

It is not the current Welsh Government that I have a problem with, but the previous neo-liberal regime, whose mistakes I am now paying the price for. Local Authorities also deserve to shoulder some of the blame for refusing to provide adequate support for those that need it, purely for selfish financial reasons.

I hope I am able to go on for many years, but if I were to pass away tomorrow I would guess that someone at some level would say that “lessons need to be learnt”. I am still breathing, so why can’t the relevant action be taken now to improve my quality of life? I understand and am happy that the Welsh Government are doing all they can to push through implementation as quickly as they can, but in the meantime I am going to use the extra money in my Direct Payments account to fund the extra support that I need.

I have since found out that I will be unable to offer a PA anything more than the minimum wage to stay with me overnight due to ludicrous pay rates set by Wrexham County Borough Council. I should be able to pay staff working through the night, the same as I pay a member of the staff throughout the day. How can WCBC justify paying different rates for day and night? It appears as if my next fight for justice has been earmarked.

The book that I am itching to write, along with the work of art that I have conjured in my head will just have to be put on hold again…

All I know is that I am not going to sit in silence or live with fear any longer as I believe  justice is on my side. I can see all the inadequacies of the current chaotic system of social care from my position on the moral high ground and I will continue to keep raising my voice until disabled people, in particular, are able to live on a level playing field with the rest of society.

 

More Questions than Answers…

It has been an exciting period for the #SaveWILG campaign after we made a huge breakthrough a couple of weeks ago. We are now in a position of working with Welsh Labour rather than campaigning against them, which is a position we are all happy with.

BREAKING NEWS… #SaveWILG

WREXHAM MAN’S DISABILITY CAMPAIGN WILL LEAD TO THOUSANDS OF LIVES BEING IMPROVED.

However, amidst all the congratulatory messages and kind words that I have received in the past few weeks, it has become clear that there is still much work to be done in order to protect independent living for WILG recipients.

While it is clearly a positive that the transition period has been paused and WILG recipients are now entitled to a independent social worker to help decide on their care package, there remains much uncertainty and confusion about the next steps. At the moment, WILG recipients – including myself – are stuck in limbo land between clueless local authorities and a Welsh Government that has to focus on Brexit. 

In the meantime, 1,300 or so disabled people with high care and support needs are suffering. We have every reason to be proud of what we have achieved, but there cannot be any celebration until each one of us are living the lives we deserve to be.

In the days since Deputy Health Minister Julie Morgan announced her new and exciting plans I have received many emails from confused recipients who want to know what happens now. People have been going through stress and worry about the loss of WILG since November 2016 and the confusion remains.

We need a clear timetable from the Welsh Government of when we can expect our reassessments to take place as people are continuing to struggle without adequate support. A timetable would allow people to plan their lives and provide them with tangible hope for the future.

Looking at the statement produced by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services on February 12, I personally think that every WILG recipient should have a firm offer of a reassessment under the ‘revised arrangements’ with an explanation as to why this is happening. The onus should not be on the recipient to request a reassessment. Those who have had a reduction or had their care provision frozen should all be reassessed under the tripartite system.

Mark Drakeford’s new Welsh Labour brand, should be proud of listening to the concerns of disabled people and their families and acting accordingly,  but they need to act urgently to put their promises into action and provide us all with answers to our questions. We are doing our best to understand that the wheels of politics do not tend to run quickly, but unfortunately patience is not a virtue that WILG recipients can afford. 

We have written to the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services and await her response with anticipation. 

Thanks to Wikipedia for the following:

John Lester “Johnny” Nash, Jr. (born August 19, 1940) is an American reggae and pop music singer-songwriter, best known in the US for his 1972 hit, “I Can See Clearly Now“. He was also one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in KingstonJamaica.[1]

Wrexham man’s disability campaign will lead to thousands of lives being improved

The following article was taken from the Leader Live website. I am claiming no credit for writing this article which also appears in the Leader newspaper. 

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Improvements have been made to the way care is delivered for more than 1,000 disabled people in Wales to help ensure they get the support they need to live independent lives.

Local Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, has welcomed the Welsh Government’s latest announcement and congratulated Wrexham resident, Nathan Lee Davies, who headed a strong campaign and made representations to the Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan AM, on the matter.

Concerns regarding the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) were initially raised when it was announced the responsibility for the scheme, which had been introduced after the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), was to be passed onto local authorities to manage from April this year. Nathan feared the changes would have a detrimental effect on his wellbeing and initiated the ‘Save WILG’ campaign.

The hard work has paid off as under the latest proposals, additional measures have been put in place to ensure nobody who was once in receipt of WILF, and its predecessor ILF, misses out as a result of the changes. An independent social work assessment will be offered to all former ILF recipients who are unhappy with their new care and support package and would like a second opinion.

The Welsh Government will provide additional funding to local authorities for the cost of the workers to carry out these independent assessments and additional care hours that may result from the assessments.

Lesley Griffiths AM said: “It was vitally important that people who previously received payments from the Welsh Independent Living Grant were not negatively affected by the transition. These latest measures will help ensure the new system is implemented properly, assuring levels of care and support throughout Wales are delivered consistently.”

“There’s no doubt the Save WILG campaign made a real difference. Having met with Nathan a number of times, it was always clear to see the extra stress and anxiety this was causing him. I am pleased to have helped facilitate the Minister’s meeting with Nathan in Wrexham and I hope all the individuals who feared they were going to be adversely affected are happy with the outcome.”

The £27m Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) was originally set up in 2015 following a decision by the UK coalition Government to close the Independent Living Fund.

Welsh Government consulted with partners to develop a long term strategy. A two-year transition period began in April 2017 in which all former ILF recipients in Wales who were now in receipt of payments under WILG would have their care needs assessed by their local authority to ensure a care plan was agreed and support package put in place.

While the transition period resulted in the majority of recipients being satisfied with the new arrangements, some former ILF recipients, who had not been subject to a care assessment since 2015, were concerned by the change in approach, with the reassessment causing tension in some cases.

The announcement by the Welsh Government aims to address the inconsistencies, with evidence suggesting the variation between local authorities warrants a change in direction and the Welsh Government has written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in revised arrangements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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