Minister for Children and Social Care

Petitions Committee Minutes #SaveWILG

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

The full minutes from the meeting can be viewed here. 

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

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

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

Gareth Griffiths, Head of Paying for Care, Welsh Government

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

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

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

Minutes:

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

Thunderclap #SaveWILG

According to Wikipedia, Thunderclap is a platform that lets individuals and companies rally people together to spread a message. The site uses a model similar to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, in that if the campaign does not meet its desired number of supporters in the given time frame, the organizer receives none of the donations. This is referred to as “crowdspeaking”, as Thunderclap and its rival site Daycause use the same terminology. [2][3] Backers are required to copy the original message in tweets or social media posts.[4]

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Please find below an important Thunderclap that we should all get involved in to help #SaveWILG.

This is a vital and easy way for  people to get involved with the campaign. Please encourage everyone you know, to take part and spread the message that we all want to save WILG, and deserve to have our voices heard.

The more pressure we can put on the Welsh Government, the better. On June 5th, when the thunderclap is activated, I will  be in Cardiff  at the Senedd, meeting with the Petitions Committee, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies, Mark Drakeford AM and Julie Morgan AM.

We want to flood social media, and hope you will be able to spare one minute to help us achieve this aim. If this action succeeds, there will be future thunderclaps held.

Unfortunately, Thunderclap no longer allows targeted messages to prevent individual accounts being bombarded unfairly.

The message that will be shared across Twitter and Facebook reads as follows:

Welsh Labour need  to listen to their members and Save WILG for those with high care and support needs across Wales.

Anyone wishing to add memes or postcard photos to their social media accounts, can find plenty via my website or by simply contacting me via the contact page or on social media. I can’t make it much easier for you 😊

Many thanks for your support, and please do not hesitate to click on the following link:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/70260-savewilg

Plaid Cymru Press Release #SaveWILG

Written Statement by the Welsh Government #SaveWILG

The following statement has been issued by the Welsh Government, regarding the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

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TITLE Welsh Independent Living Grant – Update

DATE 23 May 2018

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

As the first year of the two year Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) transition period has just ended, I thought it would be an opportune time to update Members on progress.

The Welsh Government is committed to independent living so that disabled people, wherever they live in Wales, are appropriately supported to achieve their wellbeing outcomes within their communities. As a result the majority of disabled people are supported to do this by their local authority who, under our social services legislation, have a legal duty to help them achieve their wellbeing outcomes. This will include their desire to live as independently as possible. Local authorities are funded in part to do this through the Revenue Support Grant we provide to local government.

This has been the case since 2010 when the UK Government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to new applicants. Consequently, disabled people were no longer able to receive payments from the ILF to help with the cost of independent living in addition to receiving separate support from their local authority, which was a condition of receiving ILF payments. As a result a two tier system was created where some disabled people in Wales were still being able to access both avenues of support, while the majority of disabled people could now only receive this from their local authority.

In 2015 the UK Government closed the ILF altogether believing disabled people’s needs were best met locally by support provided by their local authority and as a result, in England the responsibility for providing this transferred to local authorities. In Wales, responsibility was transferred to the Welsh Government, with fixed funding of £27 million a year. There were around 1,600 people in Wales in receipt of payments from the ILF at that time. This compares with the 60,000 or so who now receive community based care and support from their local authority.

There was clearly a need at this time to make sure people in Wales who had received payments from the ILF were not left without support as a consequence of this decision. In response the Welsh Government introduced, as an interim measure, the WILG for local authorities. This was to provide the funding authorities would need to make payments uninterrupted to people who had been in receipt of ILF payments whilst we considered the most appropriate way to support this discreet group in future.

Prior to this a public consultation was held in 2014 on the principle of four alternative options to provide future support to this group. This was followed by detailed consideration by an ILF stakeholder advisory group of the viability of implementing a refined set of options based on the comments received. This stakeholder advisory group included organisations which represent disabled people in Wales, including Disability Wales and the All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers of People with Learning Disabilities.

I understand that on balance the stakeholder advisory group recommended providing future support through local authorities so that all disabled people in Wales, both those who were able to receive ILF payments and those who were not, were provided with support in an equal, consistent manner. It was also to ensure the fixed funding transferred from the UK Government was used to maximum effect by being used directly for that purpose and not on the administration costs of separate arrangements for those who used to receive payments from the ILF. The Minister at the time, Rebecca Evans AM, confirmed this in her Written Statement of 3 November 2016.

Unlike in England, where the responsibility for support was passed immediately to local authorities without guidance, we have been careful to undertake this in a managed approach. As a result we introduced in April last year a two year transition period during which local authorities will agree with people who used to receive ILF payments the wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve, how they will be delivered and what support they require. This can be by received direct from their local authority, or direct payments can be made by the authority to enable people to arrange support themselves. We have provided local authorities with clear guidance on how to undertake this process, stressing the need for this to be done in partnership with people who need care and support.

In the second year of this period people have been transferring over to receive their future support from their authority, with the WILG ceasing in March this year and the full funding of £27 million a year transferring into the RSG from this financial year onwards to enable authorities to provide that support. Since the start of the transition period we have carefully monitored local authorities’ performance and will continue to do so throughout. The latest data, which covers the first year of this period, shows over 75% of people who used to receive ILF payments have now either completed the review of their future support with their local authority, or are in the process of doing so. Consequently over a third of all people who received payments (around 400 of the current total of 1,300) are now receiving their support from their local authority, in the same way as the majority of disabled people in Wales. In addition, authorities are reporting that most people are receiving support similar to that they received using their ILF payments, with no significant issues being raised. The remaining people are to have completed the review of their future support by the end of September and to be receiving support from their local authority by the end of March next year.

This position reaffirms that our decision to introduce this change in a phased approach was the right one, with the two year transition period providing the much needed time people affected and local authorities alike require to agree the correct level and form of support people require to maintain their ability to live independently. It is understandable, however, some people affected will be apprehensive about this change and I have previously met the

leaders of a campaign to retain the WILG to explain the reasons for the change taking place. That said I am not complacent and have recently commissioned the All Wales Forum, working with Disability Wales, to produce a questionnaire for people going through this process to let us have their views on their experiences and where any improvements in the process may be made. In addition, I am writing to local authorities to reinforce the importance of this transition and of the conversations they are holding with people in ensuring they receive the future support particular to them to deliver their wellbeing outcome of living independently in the community.

‘I will spend what remains of my life fighting this if I have to’ – Disabled man’s battle for grant to live independently #SaveWILG

The following article appeared in the Daily Post and includes a video of me speaking to the Journalist Steven Bagnall as the fight to #SaveWILG intensifies.

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A disabled man says he will continue fighting for the rest of his life against Welsh Government moves to scrap a grant to help him live independently.

Nathan Lee Davies from Wrexham, made the pledge after social care minister Huw Iranca-Davies indicated this week ministers are pressing ahead with the plan to stop the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

The £27m fund is paid to about 1,300 disabled people in Wales to allow them to live in their own homes.

But the cash is currently being transferred to local authorities and by the end of March next year they will assess and decide on care packages.

Mr Davies, who is campaigning against the move, fears the money will be absorbed into struggling council’s cash-strapped budgets and will see the 86.5 hours he currently receives massively reduced.

He has friedreich ataxia disease which damages the nerve system.

It has left him needing an electric wheelchair to get about and extensive care to live alone.

“We were on a massive high after the Welsh Labour conference voted to oppose the moves,” Mr Davies said.

“But after what Huw Iranca- Davies recently said, it is massively deflating. I do fear I may become trapped in my house.

Nathan Davies outside his home. Mr Davies is determined to fight to keep the Welsh Independent Living Grant (Image: Daily Post Wales)

“I feel like I am wasting precious time fighting this – I am 41 and the average life expectancy for someone with my condition is 35.

“But I feel it is the right thing to do – not just for me – but for the other 1,300 people, some who cannot speak up for themselves and I will do it until the end if I have to.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said no individual would lose their current payments until they have worked through and agreed their support package with the council.

He said: “Welsh Government and councils in Wales are determined to support independent living for all disabled people, recognising that independent living is key to a full and satisfying life.

“We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing transition to the new scheme to make sure this happens.”

A Wrexham council spokeswoman said the authority is following the Welsh Government process and working to review all people in receipt of the WILG.

She said: “It is not possible to predict what the outcomes will be for individuals.

“We do work with people to identify alternative ways for them to meet their support needs where it is appropriate.

Open letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones #SaveWILG

Following the BBC Wales Live programme last night, I took it upon myself to write an open letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones about the issues discussed.

If the Welsh Government think we are just going to go away quietly then they can think again…

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National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff
CF99 1NA

10 May 2018

Dear Carwyn Jones

WELSH INDEPENDENT LIVING GRANT

As you are aware, the Welsh Labour Party conference overwhelmingly passed a Clwyd South motion urging support for the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). Support for that motion came from a very wide spectrum of Labour Party opinion including AMs, MPs, CLPs and Trade Unions.

I am writing to ask you to urgently encourage the Welsh Assembly to support the retention of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

Freedom of Information requests to Local Authorities clearly show that there are real difficulties appearing in the transition process, highlighted in startling inconsistencies in 19 of the 22 responses received at the time of writing.

Passing responsibility for social care wholly onto the shoulders of confused and cash-strapped local councils will result in an unfair postcode lottery to mirror the appalling situation in England and drag Disability Rights back 30 years. It doesn’t have to be this way…

I have a real problem with the assertion by  the Minister for Children and Social Care that the stakeholder group were united in agreement with the closure of WILG and the transferring of funds to local authorities. This was quite simply not the case and I request that he should provide evidence in support of these claims.  Was a vote held in the stakeholder advisory group? If so, on what date, what was the result, and can the minutes of that meeting please be provided?

The members of the stakeholder group that I have spoken to have stated their frustrations with the whole process: “I disagreed with one side of the room almost continuously,“ and “I would be amazed to see minutes of a meeting where all participants agreed that passing this WILG over to the local authority beyond the ring-fenced period was the way forward.”  Others have said “I used to go home from all these stakeholder groups thinking we had agreed certain things to discover that was not what had been recorded.” and other activists argue that many officials and civil servants do not actually “know what Independent Living means – they still think ‘independent’ means managing without support”. 

It would greatly assist me in understanding Welsh Government’s decision making process on this issue if the minutes of all of the meetings of the stakeholder advisory group can be provided, and I will submit a Freedom of Information Act request if necessary.

Finally, I would specifically request a meeting with to discuss matters relating to the WILG and the future prospects of those who have benefitted from the WILG.

Yours sincerely

Nathan Lee Davies
Disabled Activist and Author
@nathanleedavies
https://www.facebook.com/SaveWILG/
https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/

Latest Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies #SaveWILG

I have just received the following letter from Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies. I have only skim read it at the moment but I can see that it is ignoring all of our fears about the end of the three tier triangular system of support and disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD.

There have been some exciting developments in this crusade to Save WILG over the last few weeks and I remain confident in our resolve. I can’t say too much more at the moment, but the campaign continues to gather strength…

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Dear Nathan,

As promised in my letter of 28 February I am writing to provide an update on the transition period to the new support arrangements for recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

You will know a two year transition period was put in place within which WILG recipients would transfer to receiving their support from their local authority. This commenced on 1 April last year and is to conclude on 31 March 2019. During the first year of this period, local authorities were to discuss and agree with their recipients the wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve, and agree a future care package to deliver these. During the second year, authorities were to begin to provide these care packages to replace recipients’ payments under the WILG.

Clearly the first year of this is critical in terms of identifying and agreeing with recipients the outcomes they wish to achieve to continue to live independently, and agreeing a future care package to deliver this. Providing authorities with sufficient time to do this is, therefore, essential particularly given some recipients have complex needs. However this is proving difficult to achieve in all cases in the current timescale and more time needs to be devoted to this critical first part of the transition period, to ensure the most appropriate care packages for all recipients are agreed which deliver the best outcomes for recipients.

Consequently I have decided to extend the first part of the transition period so that it will now conclude on 30 September this year rather than March as originally envisaged. This is to provide local authorities and WILG recipients sufficient time to discuss and agree future care packages to make sure these are completed in an appropriate manner.

In deciding this, I have made it clear to authorities that I expect them to have completed this review part of the process for all of their recipients within this rescheduled timescale.

I expect all recipients to have an agreed future care package to deliver their wellbeing outcomes by the end of this period, i.e. 30 September this year. As a result I have no plans to reschedule the remainder of the transition period. I have, therefore, also made it clear to authorities that from now until the end of the transition period overall on 31 March next year, they should continue to put in place care packages agreed with their recipients where this is possible and not wait until this date to do so.

Following our meeting earlier this year you will know I was considering what arrangements to put place to collect qualitative data on the transition period to go alongside the quantitative data we collect from authorities. Having considered this, I have decided to commission a short questionnaire for recipients, hosted by the All Wales Forum in partnership with Disability Wales, to seek their views on the whole of the transition process. This will cover the process from initial contact by their authority to provision of their agreed care package. This is so that we have qualitative data on the transition process from the recipient’s perspective. Details of this are currently being agreed with the Forum and Disability Wales and officials will be providing more information for recipients on this survey, and how they can take part in this if they wish, once these have been finalised.

As regards progress on the transition process a number of local authorities across Wales are reporting they have completed the reviews for all, or a substantial number of, their recipients so that these will be transferring shortly to receive their future support from their authority. With these, these authorities report they have had few issues with, or complaints from, recipients as a substantial number are to receive future support similar to that they currently receive. While it will take some time to complete this for all recipients, there are no indications at present that doing this will present any more problems than would normally be the case with an assessment of care needs.

As regards Wrexham I understand it is already in the process of reviewing the future needs of around half of its 93 recipients, with around 20 or so of these already having agreed their future care package with few issues. It acknowledges this is taking time due to social worker vacancies it has had (which it has now addressed) and the fact that the majority its WILG recipients are in supported living houses (where to cater appropriately for each person’s needs it has to undertake reviews of everyone living in each house, thereby multiplying the number of reviews required and lengthening this process).

Nevertheless it has assured me it is taking a person centred approach to completing this process, with recipients their families, carers and advocates involved as appropriate, and that it will have completed reviews for all its recipients by the end of September as planned.

I understand Wrexham was in contact in February with its recipients to update them. If you wish to check the position as to when your review is scheduled, or you have concerns over this or how this will be undertaken, I would urge you to contact the council to address these.

Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM

Y Gweinidog Gofal Cymdeithasol
Minister for Children and Social Care