Petitions Committee

Committee discuss #SaveWILG

By visiting Senedd.tv and watching the Petitions Committee meeting from September 17, you can listen to probably the final discussion of the #SaveWILG campaign by the committee. 

Many thanks to the Petitions Committee for all the time and work put into considering the petition. I am glad to report that I received an email from the independent assessors this afternoon proposing the beginning of my assessment on October 1st.

The information below has been taken from the official minutes of Tuesday’s Petitions Committee meeting.

***

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

Supporting documents:

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

The Last Time? #SaveWILG

I received the following email to inform me that the Petitions Committee at the Senedd will be discussing my petition to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant on Tuesday 17th September at 9.00.  This may be one of the final times that the petition is considered by the committee in question, considering how far we have come over the last seven months.

We are still waiting for our reassessments, but the end is in sight…

Nevertheless, I would still recommend that all those affected by WILG should tune in to the following:

***

Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 17 September at 9.00.

I enclose a link to the Agenda and Public Papers for your consideration:

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5650&Ver=4

A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV at:

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee 

Petitions Committee on Senedd TV

I have written to the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in order to encourage her team to publish a timetable which will allow WILG recipients to plan their futures with certainty, and extricate themselves from limbo land. WILG recipients, such as myself, are still struggling after years of neglect from clueless local authorities. and everyone at the #SaveWILG campaign has faith that Welsh Government now fully understand these difficulties and will be implementing their proposals very soon.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Minister, Julie Morgan will be speaking with the Petitions Committee on Senedd.tv at about 10pm. The meeting will be available to view whenever you can on the website. I am looking forward to hearing constructive plans that can assist me out of the current predicament I find myself in – inadequate care and support is taking it’s toll on my physical and mental health…

***

Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 05 March at 9.00.

I enclose a link to the Agenda and Public Papers for your consideration:

http://senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5288&Ver=4

A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV at:

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee

D0jkv-0X4AA6G8c

 

Petitions Committee to discuss WILG #SaveWILG

I received this email about the Petitions Committee discussing the imminent closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and our efforts to save it on Tuesday morning (12th February). This day also marks an important meeting which I will keep under wraps for now and then I am off to Kimnel Bay to feature on Sound Radio to talk about the Campaign. Nowadays, I hardly complete a sentence without uttering the words Welsh Independent Living Grant.

The 12th of February also happens to be my birthday. Let’s hope the Committee can finally move towards writing a report on the future of WILG to put pressure on the  Welsh Government to protect disabled people and their families. The only way to do this is by maintaining and improving the Welsh Independent Living Grant and reinforcing the tripartite system. 

***

Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 12 February at 9.00.

I enclose a link to the Agenda and Public Papers for your consideration:

http://senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5287&Ver=4 

A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV at:

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee

thumbnail_image2 (1)

Petitions Committee Actions #SaveWILG

Below I have copied part of the minutes from the Petitions Committee who met on Tuesday at the Senedd.

People are saying that Theresa May is running out of time to get a Brexit deal through Parliament.  They would be right.  However, it is also important to remember that WILG is due to close on March 31st 2019, so this is why it is so important for us to keep up the pressure now.   The Petition Committee have been talking about the closure of WILG since October 2017 and it is important that they now move towards writing a report, that will hopefully put the Welsh Government under even more pressure to act in a positive way and #SaveWILG.

***

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

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care together with further comments from the petitioner and agreed to:

  • produce a summary of the evidence received, with a view to preparing a report or a detailed letter to the Minister setting out the evidence received and the Committee’s conclusions or recommendations; and
  • request a copy of the results of the deep dive review of all cases where there is an intention to reduce the local authority’s direct support for recipients of the WILG, and details of any actions that the Welsh Government will be taking as a result of this.

Response to Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies to the Chair of the Petitions Committee #SaveWILG

Below you can find my response to Mr David Rowlands – Chair of the Senedd Petitions Committee – in answer to the previous letter from the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies.

 ***

3rd December 2018

Dear Mr Rowlands,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to the letter you received from the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care regarding the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

For this letter I have decided to list my responses to the Minister’s letter in an easy-to-read, bullet point format. This will allow the Committee time to access the key points against the weak arguments put forward by the Minister and the Welsh Government.

Without further ado, I will begin listing the reasons for which we strongly disagree with the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care.

The Minister begins his letter by stating that the purpose of the changes to Social Care are to end the “two-tier arrangement” that currently exists in order to provide a level playing field to all disabled people. The Minister is referring to a two-tier system that the Welsh Government chose to perpetuate. Meanwhile, during the consultation process ahead of the introduction of WILG, there were a number of other options on the table.  Option 4 proposed opening up the WILG for new applicants. This option was never fully investigated by the Welsh Government who seem averse to investing in people.

    The #SaveWILG campaign fully supports equality across the board and it is a bizarre argument that says essential support should be jeopardised to give equal treatment to all. What is actually happening is an EQUALISATION DOWNWARD, however subtle and however long it takes to materialise. We cannot just sit back and let this happen.

    It is not AND never has been an excuse not to do something because it is “difficult to unpick”. It would ONLY create “turmoil” if the Welsh Government handled it badly. It does not inspire confidence to witness such a lack of self-belief by our elected representatives. Of course, the obvious point is that there is mass turmoil NOW precisely BECAUSE of what the Welsh Government are doing. I’m afraid that those in power will have to put in the hours to make up for their initial mistakes against the warnings from disabled people and their families.

    In his letter, the Minister tries to blind the Committee with statistics. I prefer to concentrate on the human aspect and the number of emails that the #SaveWILG campaign receives regularly. These confidential messages are often found with tales of struggle, depression and desperation. On paper it is easy to ignore the negative effects of policies, but in the real world those that are directly affected deserve to be listened to. A large majority of struggling recipients do not have the ability to speak out against the Government in the way that I have done. Furthermore, many recipients are too afraid of the consequences of criticising Councils that have so much control over their lives.  This was why arrangements under the ILF provided a safety net for disabled people: because assessments were carried out by independent Social Workers, who could not be manipulated by local authorities.

    We are told that the Minister has instructed local authorities to perform a “deep dive” into the WILG transition. How can we begin to trust the findings of local authorities when they are under such immense pressure to cut costs due to a lack of funding from Central Government? Disabled people must be protected in the face of these cuts and not be seen as an easy group to exploit.

    I fully believe that the Welsh Government have a responsibility to support disabled people and should work with them instead of pointing them towards cash-strapped local authorities, many of whom do not have an adequate complaints procedure in place.

    The Minister and his team have repeatedly told us this is not about money. However, when we say that the Government should open WILG to all disabled people, they repeatedly say they can’t afford it. So, it is about money, then?

    This situation has arisen because of the heartless closure of the ILF by the UK Government but the current mistakes confusion, mess and inconsistencies proves that the Welsh Government are heading in the wrong direction.  Disabled people with high care and support needs are the ones paying the price for these errors.

    At no point do we see the Minister or the Welsh Government acknowledging that MOST WILG recipients are not able to contribute on a level playing field to any consultation. There seems to be a complete – I am sure unconscious – lack of understanding about this. People are not machines that fit neatly into box-ticking exercises.

    Informing us of the huge delays already, shows that the turmoil, and lack of a competent working system, already exists. Hence the need to make sure long-term that those who need this support most, do not have to worry about this kind of upheaval on a yearly basis.

    THE most important thing is the healthcare & support for recipients. Many do not have the luxury of time to be fighting this full-throttle. Let me be clear though, there are plenty of us fortunate enough not to be in their position who will never give up or shut up about this.

    QUESTION FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS: When do we expect to get the full, published, unedited or un-amended report from the review? 

    Thank you very much indeed for facilitating this process. I am grateful to you and everyone at the Petitions Committee for taking the time to listen and consider our strong arguments.

    Yours in hope,

    Nathan Lee Davies

    #SaveWILG campaign

    Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies to the Chair of the Petitions Committee #SaveWILG

     This is the letter that Huw Irranca-Davies has written to the Chair of the Petitions Committee – Mr David Rowlands – defending the Welsh Government’s decision to close WILG.

    My response appears in the next blog in which I have totally decimated the weak arguments in favour of signalling an end to the Welsh Independent Living Grant. 

    The fight continues…

    ***

     Dear David, 

     Thank you for your letter of 31 October in connection with Nathan Davies’ petition to reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). 

    Before I respond to your questions I think it is important to remind ourselves of the purpose of the transition process we are undertaking.  We are introducing this change to ensure equality of access for all disabled people in Wales to support to live independently in the community.  This is to remove the two-tier arrangement which existed previously, where some were able to access support from their local authority and payments from the Independent Living Fund (ILF), while others, because of the UK Government’s decision to close the ILF to new applicants in 2010, have only been able to access support from their authority.  Hence the objective of this transition, and of the support reviews being undertaken within it, is to ensure all disabled people are empowered in a consistent way to be able to live independently in a manner that is appropriate in their particular circumstances.  This could be by support provided directly from their local authority, by support provided by direct payments from their authority, by support provided in other ways (such as from the third sector, family or friends) or by a mix of any of these.  This is the ethos and cornerstone the social services legislation we introduced and something which every disabled person in Wales deserves access to irrespective of how they may have been supported in the past. 

    Given the objective, and as I outline below the support for the majority of the disabled people affected by this transition is now being provided though their local authority, it is difficult to see how this could now be unpicked to reinstate the WILG as Mr Davies’ petitions without creating turmoil for those that have been through this transition. 

    We welcome receiving correspondence in Welsh.  Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding. 

    As you say we have now completed our latest quarterly monitoring of local authorities’ progress in transitioning people who used to receive WILG payments to receiving their support to live independently through their local authority.  This latest monitoring covers the period up to the end of September this year and details of this are below.  Overall this shows good progress in undertaking future support reviews with people affected, in agreeing with them their future support package to deliver their wellbeing outcomes and in putting these in place to provide that support. 

    The data provided by local authorities shows that of the 1,336 people who were originally in receipt of payments under the WILG, over 1,242 (93%) had by the end of September completed or were in the process of completing their support review with their local authority.  As a result 717 people (54%) had now agreed their future support package with their local authority and were receiving this through their authority.  In the majority of these cases (531 – 74% of the 717) people were receiving support of a similar level and nature to that they would have received if they had still been receiving payments under the WILG.  In around 100 of the 717 (14%) the level of support being provided had increased due to the dependency of the person increasing since their last review.  In around 86 of the 717 cases (12%) the support from the authority itself has reduced as it was thought more appropriate in those people’s circumstances if the support they required was provided in a different manner than previously (such as support provided from a third party). 

    With a small number of people (20) their review identified it was no longer appropriate for them to receive community care from their local authority, either because the person had developed a need for healthcare or was now in need of some form of residential based care.  

    This left around 64 people who were at that time yet to begin their support review.  This is due to a mixture of social worker capacity within a small number of authorities, where they had not by that time been able to engage with all people affected, and a number of people who to date have not themselves engaged with their authority despite authorities’ approaches to them to do so.  As a result we have sought, and received, assurances from the seven authorities concerned that these remaining reviews will be completed by the end of the year at the latest so as not to impact upon the future support they agree with their authority being place by the end of March next year when the period for this transition is due to end. 

    Out of all the reviews completed as at the end of September there were 17 people who were challenging the outcome of their support reviews.  This is just under 2% of the people who had undergone their review with their authority. 

    Despite this good progress I am not complacent.  You will have seen the recent media coverage of this transition which focussed heavily on those people who are to receive less direct support from their local authority, with little or no reference to the majority who to receive the similar support from their local authority or indeed are to receive more.  I have, therefore, to be assured of this position, asked local authorities to undertake a deep dive review of all cases where following a support review there is an intention to reduce the authority’s direct support to the person.  This is to identify the reasons for this decision and the exact scale of any reductions and to receive from each Director of Social Services a personal assurance that where such changes occur they are appropriate and do not impact on people’s ability to live independently in the community.  The results of this deep dive review are due to be received and analysed by the end of November.  

    In addition to this I intend to undertake a series of regional meetings with Directors and Cabinet members for Health and Social Services within authorities to discuss the outcome of these reviews to ensure that it is the case that any reduction in direct support from an authority is not impacting on people’s ability to live independently.  My officials are in the process of arranging these meetings, which I hope to have concluded by early December.  That said, I have already visited both Wrexham County Borough Council and Powys County Council to meet their Directors and Cabinet Members and have received their assurance that people affected are genuinely being empowered to live independently to deliver their wellbeing outcomes. 

    You ask about the possibility of requiring local authorities to report the actual expenditure they incur on people who transition to local authority support.  The level of expenditure on the support an individual requires is, of course, dependent on the level, nature and complexity of that support as identified by their support review.  It is not determined by a standard amount per person and so the level of expenditure will vary from person to person as the support they require will vary.  As a result the fact that one person may be having more or less expenditure on their support than another is not an indicator of the appropriateness of that support, but of the cost of support they require. 

    Added to this it must be remembered that all people who received payments under the WILG would also have received a level of care and support from their local authority which it would have funded separately.  This is because this was a qualifying condition originally set by the ILF for receiving payments.  As such it is difficult to see how authorities could, if this request was made, separate out the cost of only one element of over 1,000 people’s overall support package or indeed what value there would be in doing so. 

    What I can say is that the full funding of £27 million a year transferred from the UK Government to support people affected has been added from this year to the Revenue Support Grant on a recurrent basis.  Not a single penny of this has been retained centrally.  As a result no local authority has raised with me or my officials that a lack of funding is an issue with this transition or that this is adversely affecting the outcomes which they able to receive for people affected. 

    Yours sincerely, 

    Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM 

    Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care