Paul Martin

BBC Report: Wales disability support cuts: Care to be re-assessed in July #SaveWILG

Elderly man in wheelchair

Re-assessments of severely disabled people unhappy with their care packages will not begin before July.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant has ended with councils funding care for more than 1,000 people receiving it.

In February, the Welsh Government announced anyone unhappy with their new council care package would be offered independent re-assessments.

Plaid Cymru said the wait was “way too long”. The Welsh Government has been asked to respond to the criticism.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Welsh Government told BBC Wales it has set aside up to £60,000 to pay an independent organisation to do the reassessments.

It anticipates the contract will be awarded by the end of June and re-assessments will begin in July.

£2.4m per year has also been budgeted, “for planning purposes”, to cover the potential costs of any increased packages.

157 people out of 1,174 assessed by their councils by the end of last year had had their support reduced.

There have been big regional variations, with cuts most common in Wrexham, Newport and Ceredigion.

Julie Morgan

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.

In a letter to ex-WILG recipients, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said their “patience” would be appreciated.

“I do not want people to be waiting for an independent assessment,” she said.

“However, it is important to organise these independent assessments properly, so that they meet the required standards.”

Plaid Cymru’s social justice spokeswoman Leanne Wood questioned whether the reassessments were necessary.

“Initially many of these people were given an award for life and going through a reassessment process is extremely stressful,” she said.

“Particularly if you have a condition that everybody knows is not going to improve, it’s only going to deteriorate.

“So putting people through those reassessments is potentially problematic but at the same time this does need to be resolved quickly.”

‘Irresponsible’

Nathan Davies, a Labour member and founder of the Save WILG campaign, said the wait was “inconvenient” but criticised the previous Welsh Labour Government, led by Carwyn Jones, which made the initial decision to transfer the responsibility to councils.

“The fact that they [the current Welsh Government] are having to do this work now is because the previous neo-liberal regime did not listen to our campaign team and disregarded the evidence that we presented.

“The fact that we are having to endure an uncomfortable few months is totally down to them and a number of irresponsible local authorities.”

You can see more on this story on the BBC Wales Live programme at 22:30 BST on Wednesday BBC One Wales, and then on BBC iPlayer

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. 

***

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”.

Essential Viewing: Wales Live

PLEASE WATCH THIS. APOLOGIES FOR THE LENGTH OF TEXT, BUT PLEASE READ & SHARE THIS (via copying and pasting or going to Clwyd South Labour Party Facebook page if you can’t share from here. Thank you).

Video is from approx 8mins 35 secs in.

Another superb report about the Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG campaign by the BBC’s Paul Martin, who again puts his UK-level colleagues to shame by showing how journalism should be done.

With Plaid securing a debate on WILG on Wednesday in the Assembly, we at Clwyd South Labour Party & Labour for Wrexham join our MPs Susan Elan Jones MP & Ian Lucas in calling on the Welsh government, OUR party, to finally make the change that absolutely NOBODY (apart from seemingly some Cabinet Ministers), ANYWHERE-inside or outside Labour-is against!

Both Mark Drakeford AM & Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North are good people, who we campaigned, phonebanked, door-knocked & supported passionately during their respective campaigns; both have been openly supportive of what we are trying to do.

So, if anyone is in doubt as to how important this is, or why it is ESSENTIAL that the Welsh Independent Living Grant with a confirmed TRIPARTITE (recipient, Local Authority, WAG-with WAG controlling admin & money) system is saved, then let us present evidence in addition to expert opinion:

-via FOI, VERY clearly, without a shred of doubt, the evidence in black & white shows that the current system implemented last year is failing lots of people. Demonstrably so. We have pages and pages of evidence and reports that prove that, putting all emotional pleas to one side, NOT keeping WILG with Tripartite is demonstrably worsening the lives of many, while as Dame Tani Grey-Thompson says, the inevitability of it costing MORE by NOT doing this!

Add to this we have plenty of evidence of what happens when the WILG equivalent is kept as in Scotland & Northern Ireland (very successful) V when it is scrapped, hence WILG to begin with, in England-i.e. Terrible results for the most vulnerable. Not surprising given this is, no matter how it is dressed up & accepting it was not the original intention, very clearly a Neo Liberal policy-the antithesis of what we stand for in Labour.

-NONE of the recipients are creating a two-tier system. WAG is. Both at the initial stage-their choice, but also now with the wildly differing results from Local Authorities. THAT is a two-tier system! Also, the number of recipients is only going DOWN, so if WAG do not think it is obvious that THE most vulnerable people in Wales deserve their direct protection (Tripartite), then we would love to know why.

-Democracy: We are very pleased to see Mark Drakeford re-emphasizing how we are a democratic, member-led party in Wales. Therefore, we expect, obviously, that the vote at Welsh Labour conference 2018 is upheld and that we keep WILG with a Tripartite system. Otherwise, as one of the first acts of the new administration, it’s not exactly a good look if the largest ever defeat for WL is ignored given the committed stance on democracy!!! Many would question what the point of conference motions are if this is ignored.

-Total unanimous support to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG from the following:

The Labour Party membership inside & outside Wales

Labour MPs inside & outside Wales and AMs, Councillors etc in Wales

The Leader of the Labour Party at UK level Jeremy Corbyn

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Welsh Labour Grassroots- The Home for Momentum in Wales

Unite the union

Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson

The UN

The Official UK-wide Disability Group for Labour who also passed our motion

ALL other political parties in Wales. ALL!

Every single Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Wales that we have had direct contact with, and many we haven’t

Wrexham FC, Ken Loach, Mark Thomas, Atilla The Stockbroker, Joe Solo & MANY other cultural icons

Do we need to go on? We repeat, we have faith in both Mark Drakeford & Julie Morgan to do the right thing as they are good Socialist people. IF, and we say IF, this is a failure of consensus politics, then annoy those objecting in your cabinet. Not the most vulnerable people in Wales. IF this is being stopped by the egos of others, because OBVIOUSLY it is not based in evidence, is it?!, then I am afraid WE, because WE are Labour, MUST stand up to anyone wishing to block what is an ABSOLUTE NO-BRAINER!!!

To be clear-our campaign will only heap praise on Mark Drakeford, Julie Morgan & Welsh Labour if they secure what is ethically, economically, politically & procedurally the right thing to do. We will praise them for listening and PROVING this new administration is a listening one, that it is very much a Socialist one, and very much an administration that respects democracy. It will be a statement of intent. It will, to quote Rhodri Morgan, show “Clear red water” between the Tories in Westminster & Labour in Wales. Nathan & the campaign has done everything by the book, jumping EVERY admin/democratic hurdle.

Now with this democracy-centred, inclusive, Socialist administration in addition to all the glaring, factual evidence, NO OPPOSITION either internally or externally, the UK Leader & Shadow Chancellor, the UN, Welsh MPs & AMs, THE CONFERENCE VOTE etc etc…This really is VERY easy to do from every conceivable angle-morally, politically, economically, PR-wise etc. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

We want to be proud to continue the fight to oppose social injustice. The average life expectancy of someone with lead campaigner Nathan Lee Davies‘s condition, is 35 years old. Tomorrow-Tuesday 12th February 2019-is Nathan’s 42nd birthday. To quote Nathan himself:

“I do not want to be using what precious time I have left fighting against the hierarchy of the party I love and campaign for. But I will if I have to. Please don’t make me.”

On behalf of the campaign, please do not make us have to, either. Do the right thing. You are good, decent people who we are proud to campaign for & defend daily. Yes, no one says your job is easy-far from it. But this decision is. PLEASE, before the party we love gets exposed in the Assembly on Wednesday, PLEASE LISTEN. THANK YOU!

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

BBC Report: Wales disability support cuts: People experiencing ‘real distress’ – #SaveWILG

Journalist Paul Martin really has played an important part in the #SaveWILG campaign by increasing awareness of the issue with the general public. He has always delivered well balanced articles that clearly show the failings of Welsh Government policy and Local Authorities.

His latest article on WILG can be read below or by clicking this link He has also produced a feature that will appear on BBC Wales Live this evening (23/01/19).

***

A woman who cares for her severely disabled brother has said funding cuts have negatively affected her life, as pressure to change the system grows.

Jayne Newman, from Newport, said she was given “no reason” for a loss of support, which saw 15 hours of care for her brother Tommy cut.

MP Ian Lucas said changes to support for people who used to get a special grant were causing “real distress”.

Newport council said Mr Newman received a “generous” support package.

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

But WILG is being scrapped and the funding and responsibility for more than 1,000 people who received it transferred to Wales’ 22 local authorities, leading to fears of cuts to support.

More than 100 of the first 600 people who were assessed by their councils had their support reduced.

Jayne Newman
Image caption Jayne Newman said the level of care her brother needs was akin to looking after a baby 

Ms Newman, whose brother lives with her, said she was given “no reason” for the cuts of 15 hours per week, which equates to paying a carer for an overnight stay and five hours of day care.

“He needs total care, so he needs to be washed, dressed, shaved,” she said.

“He is now on a liquid diet which means it’s a bit like having a baby, we’ve got to give him hourly feeds to maintain his weight and wellbeing.

“As long as somebody is there he doesn’t really understand whether it’s me or one of the carers, so he doesn’t understand that the cuts have made a difference to my life.

“It’s like I have to be in every night by nine o’clock. I still want to have a life as well as look after my brother.

“They said they would work with you and not have it done to you and that’s not what happened.”

 

 

But Newport council said Mr Newman’s care package was “over and above” what he would have been allocated as a new case.

A spokesman said: “Although certain elements of the original package of care have been removed, they have been replaced with a more flexible package.

“There has been no significant reduction in the overall level of care that has been provided to the extent that it no longer meets his eligible needs.”

The minster responsible for overseeing the transition from WILG to council-run support, Huw Irranca-Davies, left government in December in new First Minister Mark Drakeford’s reshuffle.

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

His replacement as deputy minister for health and social services, Julie Morgan, called for a review of the policy while on the backbenches, and Mr Drakeford said during his leadership campaign changes would be made if people were losing out.

Mr Lucas, the Labour MP for Wrexham, suggested a possible solution could be for those who have lost out to apply for a top-up from Welsh Government.

“I don’t think we’re going to have the same scheme that we had previously but I do expect a big improvement in the scheme as it exists at the moment,” he said.

“I think this is causing real distress for people who need help.

“We know that local authorities are under a lot of pressure and I don’t think they’re the right people to be administering those schemes.”

Welsh Government emails seen by BBC Wales Live show government officials were told by a “number” of councils “the overall cost of the support provided to people who have transitioned (to council funding) is more than the WILG funding transferred (from the Welsh Government to councils)”.

The Welsh Government said it was “reviewing progress rigorously to achieve a fair outcome” for all.

“It is paramount that a person’s ability to live independently is not compromised by the change in the way care and support is arranged for people previously in receipt of the WILG,” it said.

It added all money had been passed on to councils, and none had been reclaimed despite the number of eligible recipients falling.

Wales Live is on BBC One Wales at 22:35 on Wednesday.

Wales Live Coverage #SaveWILG

I have become a bit of a media star following my appearance on BBC One’s Wales Live programme that featured an item about the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

BBC Online article

Wales Live, BBC One Wales 22.30, 09/05/18

I was happy with the way that journalist Paul Martin investigated the issues that lie behind the decision to close WILG, but then I was not so happy that Huw Irranca-Davies (HID) had the opportunity to spread more untruths about the Welsh Governments decision being totally backed by the independent stakeholder group.

Following the programme, I was up until 2am writing open letters to both HID and First Minister Carwyn Jones which I will publish on this blog shortly.

I want to thank everyone for their support and I would like to remind potential leadership contender, HID that what I said on TV last night remains true.

This fight is far from over…