Local Authorities

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.

Wales disability support cuts: ‘Second opinion’ offered by ministers

The following article is taken from BBC News online. I am not taking any credit for the article and the original piece can be accessed by clicking on this link. 

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Severely disabled people unhappy with their care package will be offered independent assessments, say ministers.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) is being scrapped with councils taking over funding care for the more than 1,000 people receiving it.

Previous social care minister Huw Irranca Davies had insisted there would be “no losers” due to the changes.

But, in October, BBC Wales discovered around 100 of the 600 recipients reassessed had lost some support.

The research was conducted by the Wales Live programme.

On Tuesday, the Welsh Government said anyone wanting a “second opinion” could have an “independent social work assessment” and the move to the new system would be put on hold while new arrangements are put in place.

Plaid Cymru said the Welsh Government should “admit it has got this one wrong from the very beginning”.

Announcing the change in policy, Deputy Health and Social Services Minister Julie Morgan said: “It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes 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.

The WILG was introduced in Wales to replace the UK-wide Independent Living Fund (ILF), which was closed down by the UK government in 2015.

“While the majority of former ILF [Independent Living Fund] recipients are receiving the same or more care as they were previously, a significant number have experienced a reduction in hours of support,” said Mrs Morgan.

“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.”

Julie Morgan
Image captionJulie Morgan campaigned for a change in the system as a backbencher

Mrs Morgan also announced that the Welsh Government would provide additional funding to councils for the cost of the workers to carry out these independent assessments and additional care hours that may result from the assessments.

The independent assessments will be consistent with people’s agreed “wellbeing outcome” and acknowledge the historical entitlement of former ILF recipients, she added.

Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood said the Welsh Government should “admit it has got this one wrong from the very beginning”.

“After the proposed changes are filtered through, we should thankfully have a situation where no disabled person has lost out on care.

“However, we will be spending considerably more money on administration and reviews to get to this point than if the Welsh Government had just adopted the Scottish and Northern Ireland approach of retaining the fund – as we argued for at the time.”

Huw David, Welsh Local Government Association social services spokesman, said: “In a time of austerity, any additional funding for social care is to be welcomed and I am pleased to see a commitment of extra investment from Welsh Government that will help to ensure the needs of former WILG recipients are fully met.

Local authorities would continue to work with ministers to address any concerns about the new system, he added.

Presentational grey line

Analysis

By Wales Live reporter Paul Martin

With an acknowledgement a “significant number” of people have had support cut, a guarantee of independent re-assessments, and extra cash for any increased care packages, this adds up to a pretty big shift.

It puts new Social Services Deputy Minister Julie Morgan at odds with her predecessor Huw Irranca Davies who had said the new council-run system would be fairer and that there would be “no losers.”

There are questions now about how easy this change will be, and how much it will cost.

But “Save WILG” campaigner Nathan Lee Davies – who won significant support at Welsh Labour conference – described it as “the perfect 42nd birthday present”.

Where Do You Go To My Lovely?

I was watching BBC Four late last night in an attempt to tire myself out so I was more likely to sleep through the night.  They were showing a programme entitled  One Hit Wonders.  

One of the artists featured was Peter Sarstedt who was singing Where Do You Go To My Lovely?  I have included a YouTube video of him performing this song below and the full lyric and some information from his Wikipedia page.  In no way am I claiming any association with this artist or his work, but while I was listening to his crooning I stumbled across an idea for the following blog.

It was the chorus that I found particularly inspiring:

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

Do you really want to know, Pete?

When I am alone in my bed, this is when I feel at my most vulnerable.  I cannot move at all or get up for a midnight snack. If the heating needs turning up, then I am forced to freeze until assistance arrives in the morning. Likewise, if I need to open the window to get some fresh air then this is not an option.

Trapped in a single position all night is not something that anyone should have to endure in 21st Century Wales. Just this morning, my PA pulled back my duvet to discover that my right leg was discoloured and swollen. Something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I had received the overnight assistance that I need to re-position myself. [I have had to call the out of hours doctor to advise me on the swelling that I am suffering. I have contacted the Community Nurses to report the issue and they directed me to the emergency GP service for fear that I may be experiencing blood clots. If only I could move my legs at night – something I can only do with the assistance of overnight support].

In addition, I should be wearing hand splints to keep my hands from curling into a fist, which would then aid my dexterity. I also have a T-bar that I should use underneath my knees whilst sleeping to keep my legs nice and straight. I can’t use this whilst I am alone at night because there is no space between my legs to place my urinal. Are you beginning to feel the same sense of injustice that I feel every night?

Last night was a particularly windy evening. My PA left my window ajar before leaving my property at 23.00. At 06.00 I was awoken by the sound of my blinds clattering together. My window had blown open further and the wind force was reaching gale proportions. I was dithering under my duvet and had to disrupt my father once again to perform the simple task of closing my window for me. Why should a 68-year-old man,with arthritis in both hands, have to expend all his energy in the middle of the night to come to the rescue of his guilt-ridden son?

Should a fire start in one of the other rooms of my bungalow, then I am toast. I would have no means of escape and this could be solved so simply… Instead, Wrexham Council think it is a good idea to lavish £250,000 on renovating our perfectly well equipped bus station.  Subsequently, the thoughts that surround me mainly revolve around my dislike and distrust of a Conservative/Independent led Local Authority and how I can survive under their influence until the next Council elections.

You wanted to know Pete…

Where Do You Go To My Lovely? Lyrics  

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Peter Eardley Sarstedt[1] (10 December 1941 – 8 January 2017), briefly billed early in his career as Peter Lincoln, was a British singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter. He was the brother of musicians Eden Kane and Clive “Robin” Sarstedt.

Although his music was classified as pop, it generally encompassed ballads derived from traditional folk music rather than traditional rock and roll. He was best known for writing and performing the song “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?“, which topped the UK Singles Chart in 1969. Set to a “faux European waltz tune”[2] and described as “a romantic novel in song”,[3] it won an Ivor Novello Award. The record remained Sarstedt’s biggest hit, despite his releasing numerous successful albums and singles from the late 1960s onward.

He continued to tour throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, mainly in 1960s revival-type shows, until his retirement in 2010 due to ill health.[4]

 

Open Letter to Deputy Health Minister, Julie Morgan AM #SaveWILG

FOR THE ATTENTION OF DEPUTY HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER JULIE MORGAN AM

Dear Julie

It was really good to meet you once again at my home on January 24th. I would like to thank you for listening intently to the evidence presented by myself, Sheila Meadows OBE and Vic Grout as to why the Welsh Government need to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

I am writing as a concerned WILG recipient to enquire when you will be able to reveal how the Welsh Government propose to rectify the situation caused by the imminent closure of WILG? I must push for a solution to the predicament I find myself in as time is running out and I still have not completed my reassessment thanks to the incompetence of my local authority. We were assured back in April 2018, that these reassessments would be completed by September 30, 2018. This deadline was then pushed back to November 30, 2018. The fact that this deadline has been missed should not be a surprise to anyone.  I am still struggling to cope with the inadequate levels of care and support that I currently receive, with no idea when this situation will improve. Last night I had to call my dad to assist me at 01:36. This is an untenable situation.

For your information I have included two links, at the foot of this letter, that will help you to build a clearer picture of what is going on. I have faith in Welsh Labour to do the right thing and act now before the situation gets any worse. The maintenance of the tripartite system is an absolute necessity. 

Please note that this letter is written with the deepest respect and understanding and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nathan Lee Davies

DISABILITY NEWS SERVICE: LAST-DITCH APPEAL TO NEW WELSH FIRST MINISTER OVER INDEPENDENT LIVING SCHEME 

OPEN LETTER TO FIRST MINISTER MARK DRAKEFORD

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No Fun #SaveWILG

I would like to dedicate the following song to everyone at WCBC and the Welsh Government.

I am really struggling at the moment due to inadequate hours of care and support and not being able to use my direct payments in the way they are intended, thanks to an inept local authority that are failing in their duty of care. I wouldn’t mind, but I have been warning everyone that such a situation would arise if the responsibility for social care was given entirely to local authorities.

Nights like the ones described in this blog are definitely no fun for me and I struggle to believe that I am having to live the way I do in a supposedly civilised Western country at the beginning of the 21st Century.

I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that disabled people with high care  and support needs do not have to put up with such inept treatment in the future…

Please note that I am not claiming any association with this song or the songwriters. No Fun was originally a song by The Stooges and information about them – and the Sex Pistols – can be found at the foot of this blog. All of this information has been copied from Wikipedia.

No Fun Lyrics – Preformed by the Sex Pistols

Right here we go now
A sociology lecture
With a bit of psychology
A bit of neurology
A bit of fuck-ology
No fun

Right no fun
My babe no fun
No fun
My babe no fun
Fun to be alone
Alone and by myself
Fun to be alone
In love with nobody else

No fun
My babe no fun
No fun
My babe no fun
Fun to be alone
Walking by myself
Fun to be alone
In love with no friends of mine

Maybe going out
Or maybe stay at home
Maybe call somebody on the telephone
So c’mon my baby c’mon
So c’mon
I’m alone
Having no fun by myself
This is no fun with nobody else
I’m all alone
By myself
I’ll be alone
Nobody else
It’s no fun
It;s no fun all alone
All alone no fun
All alone
No fun
I’m alone
I’m alive
I’m alone
And i’m waiting to have my fun
I’m waiting ain’t got no one
I’m all alone
This is no fun
No fun
All alone
I’m alive
No fun
I’m alive
I’m alone

No fun
No fun
No fun
My babe no fun
Fun to be alone
Walking by myself
Fun to be alone
In love with nobody else

Maybe go out
Maybe stay at home
Maybe call somebody on the telephone
So c’mon
I’m all alone
So c’mon
Oh come and play
I’m alone I’m alone
With nobody else
I’m alone I’m alone

All by myself
And I want some fun with somebody else
My baby’s alone on the lavatory
My baby won’t come play with me
I’m alone
All alone
I’m looking at the telephone
I’m alone
All alone
I got nobody else
I want my fun
I’m gonna make my own fun
All alone
I’m alive
It’s no fun
I’m alive
No fun
It’s no fun
No fun

It’s no fun

No fun
It’s no fun
It’s not funny
I’m by myself
I’m alive

The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, were an American rock band formed in Ann ArborMichigan in 1967 by singer Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander. Playing a raw, primitive style of rock and roll, the band sold few records in their original incarnation and gained a reputation for their confrontational performances, which often involved acts of self-mutilation by Iggy Pop.[6]After releasing two albums—The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970)—the group disbanded briefly, and reformed with a different lineup to release Raw Power (1973) before breaking up again in 1974. The band reunited in 2003 until dissolving in 2016 following the deaths of Scott Asheton and saxophonist Steve Mackay. Ron Asheton participated in the reunion until his death in 2009.The Stooges are widely regarded as a seminal proto-punk act.[6][7][8] The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.[9] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them 78th on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

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The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.[1][2]

The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single “God Save the Queen“, attacking Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, they precipitated one of the more significant pop culture-based moral panics.

In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent tour of the United States, Rotten left the band and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdosein February 1979, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; through 2008, they staged further reunion shows and tours. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum “a piss stain”.[3]

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Valentine’s Day Memes #SaveWILG

With time running out to #SaveWILG, we are pulling out the stops.  Brian Hilton – our creative designer – has produced the following Valentine’s Day memes that will soon be reminding AM’s and Local Authorities just what a mess they have got themselves into.

The only solution is to #SaveWILG.

A full list of tweets to accompany these memes can be found in the following blog entry. 

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Disability News Service: Last-ditch appeal to new Welsh First Minister over independent living scheme #SaveWILG

A disabled campaigner has sent an 80-page dossier of evidence to the new first minister of Wales in a last-ditch bid to persuade him to abandon plans to close the Welsh government’s independent living grant scheme.

Nathan Lee Davies has written to Mark Drakeford with just two months left until the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG), which was itself set up as an interim scheme following the UK government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in June 2015.

Davies, who has led the Save WILG Campaign, told Drakeford in an open letter this week that closing WILG would leave disabled people with high support needs “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 said that local authorities “seem to be treating disabled people as a burden”.

Davies points out in the letter that Drakeford had promised – during his successful campaign to lead the Welsh Labour party last year – that if an independent evaluation of the WILG closure showed the new system “not working as well as the old one” then he would be “prepared to reverse it”.

WILG was set up by the Welsh government – with UK government funding – as a short-term measure to support former ILF recipients when the fund was closed in June 2015.

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

Davies said the “deep dive review” of cases in which WILG recipients were having their support cut was “full of errors” and had failed to consult the disabled people who will be affected.

He pointed to his own experience at the hands of his local authority, Wrexham council, which he said had treated him “abysmally”.

Davies, who has a life-limiting condition, said that the process to reassess his support needs, due to end in September 2018, had still not been completed and was having “a negative impact” on both his physical and mental health.

He described how his social worker had laughed when he suggested he needed 24-hour support and told him that no-one in the borough received that level of support.

He said that the lack of overnight support in his current social care package meant he had to stop drinking at 8pm at night and get ready for bed at 10pm, and often had to call his 68-year-old father to assist him in the night, even though he lives a 10-minute drive away and has arthritis in both hands.

The dossier, which has already been shared with the deputy health and social services minister Julie Morgan, includes a description of a day in his life, from last January, showing the poor level of support he already receives – even before the closure of WILG – and the pain and indignity this exposes him to, as well as the lack of choice and control in his life.

Davies says: “It is 2018 and I am still being treated like a second class citizen.

“I have a progressive condition of the nervous system which is accelerating at quite a rate, yet I still have the same amount of inadequate care and support hours that I did in 2010 when I first began independent living.”

He updated this by posting a new blog yesterday, showing that little had changed in the last year.

In the dossier, he warns the Welsh Labour party: “I do not want to spend the last days of my life completely unnecessarily fighting against the party I have defended and campaigned for across many years.

“But I will if I have to. Please don’t make me.”

The dossier also includes a letter from a director of Disability Wales, Trevor Palmer, in which he says the planned WILG closure has “created serious disruptions” to his life, with local authority “incompetence and lack of understanding” that has led to his support package being “substantially” reduced.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We believe that disabled people’s ability to live independently should not be compromised by any changes to the way in which support is arranged for those people who previously received payments from the WILG.

“The first minister has just received Mr Davies’ open letter regarding the WILG and will carefully consider the detailed points it makes.

“He has asked the deputy minister for health and social services to consider what further action may be necessary to ensure disabled people in receipt of the WILG are not adversely affected by this change.

“The deputy minister has provided Mr Davies and the National Assembly’s petitions committee with details of the deep dive review.

“She also met Mr Davies at his home to hear his concerns and discuss the issues raised in his dossier.”

He said the deep dive review had seen the 22 Welsh local authorities audit all cases where they intended to cut the WILG element of people’s support.

This found planned reductions in about 157 cases, and increases in support in a similar number, out of 1,174 people.

He claimed that the cuts had taken place because “some people had developed a need for healthcare rather than social care while some, due to their support being provided in a different way or being of a different type, had a reduced need for care overall”.

He accepted that two questionnaires, commissioned from the All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers of People with Learning Disabilities, had had a low response rate, but he said that responses to it “have been positive about the way assessments have been undertaken and the outcomes people have received”.

Charlotte Walton, Wrexham council’s head of adult social care, said: “We cannot comment on any individual’s care and support needs.

“However we do not accept the allegations being made.

“We have carried out all of the WILG reviews in a person centred and inclusive manner and working with the individual recipients of the fund [has]enabled them to achieve positive outcomes from the reviews.”

Davies said he would now push for a meeting with the first minister.

He said: “I am not going anywhere and will continue to fight this until justice is served.”

Picture: Nathan Lee Davies with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn