#SaveWILG

Emergency on Planet Earth #39

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

 What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society.

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With thanks to ROFA and John Pring for the following news articles. Anyone wondering about the progress of the #SaveWILG petition should scroll down as I have included a brief update, including footage of the petition being discussed by Welsh politicians.

I have also included a news report from Skwakbox below as I tried to highlight the relevant news of the day whilst struggling to find the time to formulate writing of my own. It is becoming evermore apparent that I am in dire need of my reassessment by ICS. This is part of the deal we struck with the Welsh Government to ensure that those unhappy with their Local Authority assessments could access an independent assessment.

The delays we have been facing due to the Coronavirus Crisis are unfortunate and can not be helped, but having said that I have written countless times to ICS and have to wait long periods without a reply.

I hope to have my reassessment by the end of the month, but I need time to organise such a meeting and I will be writing to ICS yet again on Monday to try to push things forward. The physical and mental strains of not receiving the support I need is exhausting, but in the meantime I you can enjoy the article below that I have managed to cobble together.

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Unite Community are organising a National Day of Action on 15th July to highlight the injustices of Universal Credit.

Unite Community campaigns for a fairer social security system for all, which works to end poverty, and which allows claimants to live with dignity.

The three immediate demands are:

  • End the five-week wait for payment
  • Make the temporary £20 per week extra permanent and give to ALL existing benefit claimants
  • Stop Benefit Sanctions

For more details click here.

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Government Reintroduces Benefit Sanctions During Pandemic

Disabled campaigners have described the government’s decision to reintroduce benefit sanctions – in the middle of a pandemic – as “barbaric” and “life threatening”.
The decision meant an end to the three-month suspension of benefit sanctions and conditionality* in England, Scotland and Wales, which had been introduced in March as part of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Jobcentres will start re-opening this week in England, but not in Scotland and Wales, where claimants will only receive services online and by phone.

This means that some claimants in England will now begin to have face-to-face discussions with work coaches in jobcentres.

For the full story from the Disability News Service click here. 

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The petition that I originally submitted in October 2017 – to reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and support disabled people to live independently – was considered again by the Senedd Petitions Committee on Tuesday. The relevant section can be seen from the 48 minute mark via this link.

I am delighted that the Committee have agreed to keep the petition open until everything is finalised. There are still issues that need to be resolved and my determination to see disabled people receiving the support they deserve has only been strengthened by the passing of former WILG recipient and friend Tracy Pritchard…

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A few years ago, I was very proud to be a member of the Corbyn-led Labour Party and disappointed with the direction Carwyn Jones was taking Welsh Labour. It is funny how things can change as now the exact opposite is true – Mark Drakeford has my full support as First Minister while Keir Starmer seems to be testing my loyalty to the Labour brand.

Video: Unite’s Beckett slams Tories for dumping austerity fall-out of pandemic on working class – and takes Labour to task for weak response

Coronavirus: Welsh pubs and cafes to reopen indoors on 3 August

Open Letter Regarding 2:1 Support

I was sad to learn about the death of Wrexham Archives Assistant, Julian Crute, he helped me a great deal with my research into Wrexham AFC football matches and was always polite and enthusiastic. May he rest in peace.

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I have spent the last 10 years fighting for my right to Independent Living. With the help of my comrades, l led the campaign to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (#SaveWILG) – something that we are still trying to bring to a satisfactory conclusion.

While l have been carving out a reputation as a disability activist, it has been unfortunate that my neurological condition has progressed. It is no longer possible for me to communicate with the outside world without support. I am sure you can imagine that is very frustrating for someone with such a creative and active mind. I have several writing projects that l wish to pursue, l need to express myself artistically and it is my intention to continue with my activism.

The problem is that the PAs that I employ have other duties to fulfil during a shift – washing, toileting, showering, dressing, eating, drinking, cleaning, cooking and the like. I am often unable to get the thoughts that are locked inside my head on to paper whether it be a blog, poem or a piece of art. This obviously effects my mental health and I feel that I am constantly searching for an escape route from the prison of frustration that I have been sentenced to.

Thankfully, l live in Wales and we have the Social Services and Wellbeing Act to protect me – at least on paper. I think it is about time that disabled people stood up for what they are legally entitled to.

The 24/7 support that l have fought so hard for is a starting point not an end point. Having one person with me 24/7 provides safety and basic support but the Act is designed to ensure that EVERYONE has a “legally enforceable right” to a decent quality of life .I fully intend to live what is left of my life to the full, although l cannot do this  without adequate support.

Hopefully, l will be able to achieve my goal of 2:1 support without too much hassle. My previous experiences with local authorities do not fill me with confidence, but the route to achieving the support an individual needs to live life to the full, needs to be opened up so that each member of society is able to compete and contribute on a level playing field.

Nathan Lee Davies

Emergency on Planet Earth #25

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

 What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society. 

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There can be no doubt that we are living in politically volatile times. The following weeks and months will be crucial in deciding what type of society we will leave behind for future generations.

Amidst all the Coronavirus crisis, a vitally important new campaign has grown from appalling police brutality in the United States of America. You can read more about the George Floyd case and the #BlackLivesMatter campaign by clicking on this link. 

I would like to send my solidarity to everyone fighting for equality and justice. I feel powerless myself, to help make such a fundamental change in society, from the UK, but I wish my fellow Britons  would show a similar show of unrest against the status quo, as our American cousins are doing across the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, my personal crusade to establish a suitable independent living package is continuing. #SaveWILG campaigners are still working hard behind the scenes to make themselves heard, and we are hoping to make a positive announcement in the near future. Despite having a different focus, our aims are similar to those involved in the #BlackLivesMatter  campaign – equality and the ability to live life on a level playing field with the rest of society.

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The words of Vaughan Gething, that I totally agree with in principle. I always knew this day would come…

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From The Skwawkbox:

New study shows “NO statistically significant difference” in viral load between children and adults – and concludes that opening schools will drive new peak

Video: thousands gather in Liverpool for ‘I can’t breathe’ protest

Video: police chief to Trump – ‘on behalf of the police chiefs in this country, you’re putting lives at risk. If you don’t have something constructive, keep your mouth shut’

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List music from your High-School years

I really do not have much to say here as I didn’t really start getting interested in music until I started sixth-form College. This was due to a variety of reasons. For a start my main interest was all consuming. I lived and breathed football with a particular interest in Everton FC and Wrexham AFC. During that time, it is also a fact that music was absolutely tragic. I did make several attempts to listen to the latest hits via top of the pops and the charts, but the music scene failed to invigorate me.

There were a few brushes with music that were enjoyable. One of my first cassette tapes was Now 5 to enjoy on my new cassette radio player. One of my favourite tracks on there was Song for Whoever by The Beautiful South. A full listing of this album can be found in the notes at the back of the book. 

It is embarrassing to have to admit that my first single purchase at the age of 11 was New Kids on The Block with their UK debut: The Right Stuff. Go ahead and laugh, but I was young and naïve. I like to think that my taste has improved since then. 

From Wikipedia:

New Kids on the Block (also initialized as NKOTB) is an American boy band from Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States. The band consists of brothers Jonathan and Jordan KnightJoey McIntyreDonnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood. New Kids on the Block enjoyed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have sold more than 70 million records worldwide.[2] They won two American Music Awards in 1990 for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group and Favorite Pop/Rock Album.[3] The group disbanded in 1994, and reunited in 2008.

After secretly reuniting in 2007 and recording a new record, the group released that new album and embarked on a concert tour in 2008. The album, entitled The Block, was released on September 2, 2008. New Kids on the Block was listed as number 16 on Rolling Stone‘s Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments.[4] The group was on tour with the Backstreet Boys in 2011–12 as NKOTBSB. This collaboration first performed live together on November 21, 2010 at the American Music Awards on ABC[5] and again on 2011 New Year’s on ABC’s Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest show.[6][7] The group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 9, 2014

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Emergency on Planet Earth #19

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

 What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society. 

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I just wanted to use this blog to send a big thank you to First Minister Mark Drakeford, for the way in which he continues to handle the Coronavirus crisis. He has more than repaid the trust put in him by myself personally, and all the #SaveWILG campaigners who voted for his 21st Century socialism.

I feel safer under such dignified leadership, and can only sympathise with my English friends who are nervously awaiting tonight’s announcement from Boris the Butcher.

Our next aim is to ensure Welsh Labour win the 2021 Assembly elections. It seems obvious that Drakeford should win another term for his party, but we can take nothing for granted in the current political climate…

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Thank you to Skwawkbox and Novara Media for the following jpegs. There is also a very interesting blog that sums up the UK Government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation, written by Skwawkbox. This can be read by clicking on the link below:

Government’s new slogan derided as meaningless as Johnson primes UK for lock-down downgrade – and thousands more deaths.

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Committee Discuss #SaveWILG

The #SaveWILG campaign seems to be back in full swing, although I can’t make much public comment at this precise moment.

I can let you know that the Petitions Committee at the Assembly will be discussing my petition at their next meeting on Tuesday 10th of March at 09:15.

I will be sure to keep you up to date with all the latest #SaveWILG news.

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Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 10 March at 9.15.

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

http://senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5911&Ver=4

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

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee. 

Direct Payments and NHS Continuing Health Care #SaveWILG

The following article was taken from the Luke Clements site and was written by Ann James. 

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The Deputy Minister’s update statement on the Welsh Independent Living Grant[1] (WILG) is particularly welcome because it acknowledges the risk to the independence,choice and control of disabled people in Wales unless the Welsh Government enables people in receipt of either a Joint Package of care funded by the Local Authority and Local Health Board or NHS Continuing Health Care to receive a Direct Payment.

This risk to independence has been known to Welsh Government for some considerable time,[2] has been identified in a ‘direct payment note’ on Rhydian Social Welfare Law in Wales and highlighted as a risk in a paper on the Closure of the Welsh Living Grant that was offered as evidence to the Petitions Committee dealing with the Save WILG.

While it is heartening that the Deputy Minister ‘has instructed her officials to undertake a review of the Direct Payments and CHC interface’ one could argue that this is very late in the day. It would be hard to convince disabled people and their carers that setting up a system that enables them to have meaningful and personal control over key elements of their care package will compromise the principles of a public service NHS. The time is ripe to redress this lacuna which has this potential to derail Welsh Government commitments and aspirations for disabled people in Wales.

Recipients of the WILG require immediately the confidence that they can continue to retain the right to have personal assistants of their choosing irrespective of whether the funding from the LHB is a proportion of the cost of the care and support package or whether it is a NHS CHC funding arrangement.

There are those people who are not previous recipients of the WILG but who are fearful that their future is in the hands of local government and local health board officers who erroneously believe that Direct Payments cannnot be facilitated.They require an unambiguous statement from Wesh Government that all Local Authorities in Wales and all Local Health Boards are required to facilitate a joint package of care through a Direct Payment as set out in Continuing NHS Healthcare: The National Framework for Implementation in Wales[3].

In the absence of legislative change Independent User Trusts (IUTs) should be offered to disabled people and facilitated by the Local Health Board, to enable a person who has become eligible for NHS CHC to consider this option and its suitability for his/ her circumstances.

While we await a successful conclusion of the review set up by the Minister, there needs to be measures in place to enable disabled people in Wales to achieve their personal outcomes and maintain their independence. Welsh Government commitments and aspirations to Social Model of Disability is currently being shown to be hollow when the level of physical impairment and health related needs determine whether a disabled person in Wales can have control of their care and support arrangements through a Direct Payment.

Local Authorities and Local Health Boards need practice directions from Government and training in this matter if we are to avoid further human rights infringements in Wales.

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[1] Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Written Statement: Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) – Update on Independent Care Assessments (Welsh Government 13 February 2020)
[2] See for example letter Welsh Government Director of Social Services and Integration dated 10 February 2016.
[3] Welsh Government Continuing NHS Healthcare: The National Framework for Implementation in Wales (2014).

PeterRabbitmeme

WRITTEN STATEMENT BY THE WELSH GOVERNMENT #SaveWILG

TITLE: Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) – Update on Independent Care Assessments

DATE: 13 February 2020

BY: Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes to the way their care and support is arranged and provided. Last July, and following close working with the #SaveTheWILG campaign, I updated Members on the new arrangements I had introduced to provide independent care assessments for people who used to receive payments from the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). These new arrangements were to aid any former WILG recipient who was unhappy with the outcome of their local authority care assessment. This statement is an update on those independent assessments.

Following my last update, ICS Assessment Services were appointed, through a competitive process, to organise and undertake the independent assessments for those who requested these, and 46 former recipients of payments from the WILG took up this opportunity. ICS has now undertaken all of these assessments.

All of the independent assessments completed have now been quality assured by ICS and passed to the respective local authority to consider. This was prior to a discussion between a social worker from ICS and a social worker from the respective local authority about the outcome of the independent assessment, and any effect its findings may have on the person’s current care package. Subsequent to this, a joint meeting is held with the person to discuss the outcome of that discussion, talk through the implications for their care package and agree the future care and support they will receive as a result.

In around half of the independent assessments completed, the discussion between the ICS and local authority social workers has now taken place, with the remaining discussions taking place over the next few weeks. Following these, meetings with care recipients have begun, with outcomes for those people being agreed and starting to be put in place. While it is too soon to comment on the overall outcomes from these independent assessments, some important issues are coming to light.

In a number of cases ICS has found that individuals are currently receiving larger care packages than expected, potentially because those individuals are at the transition point for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC). This interface between CHC and direct payments, and the challenges this can cause for care recipients, are issues that have also been highlighted to me at the National Social Care Partnership Board

Having reflected on this, I have instructed my officials to undertake a review of the direct payments and CHC interface. This is with a view to determining whether there are other mechanisms, for example independent users’ trusts, that could be used to ensure people that need more support from the NHS are not put in a position of losing the team of personal assistants they have funded through direct payments and built up over a number of years. If a better more equitable way can be found, this would remove the apparent fear that some people feel about the prospect of CHC.

It is a complex area and I will not compromise the principle of an NHS that is in the public sector rather than in the hands of private individuals, but I want us to see if there is a better way and to do that work quickly.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 19, is clear that States must ensure disabled people have access to a range of home / residential and other community support services, including the personal assistance necessary to support living independently and inclusively within their community. The key principle regarding this human right is the ability to choose how you are supported in your everyday personal care.

As the outcomes across the span of independent assessments are confirmed, I would remind Members that the cost of the independent care assessments, and any additional social care that might be identified from them, will be met by the Welsh Government. This is so that there can be no question of changes being made to people’s care and support as a cost cutting measure. The under-pinning principle of my approach is to ensure that outcomes reached are fair and consistent with supporting people’s agreed wellbeing outcomes.

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Birthday Musings… #SaveWILG

Many thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes – it means a lot and is much appreciated.

I can’t believe twelve months have passed so quickly. I am proud to have published Dancing on Thin Ice – a selection of Tanka and Haiku poems in the last year. It was a year that began with a visit from Julie Morgan AM, who works as the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Government. She attended my house to inform #SaveWILG campaigners that she had decided to give those who were unhappy with local authority assessments, the chance to have an independent assessment with extra funds provided by the Welsh Government to pay for any extra support needed.

This seemed like a victory for #SaveWILG campaigners. Indeed, the support given by the Welsh Government has been encouraging and comforting. They appointed ICS to undertake the independent assessments and the vast majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo almost six months later. This is not due to any failing by the Welsh Government or ICS, but local authorities are still keeping us waiting, as they rubber-stamp the independent assessments.

I am really not knowing which way to turn at the moment. Life remains very insecure until I find out what the reassessment says about what support I can expect in the future. I am subsequently unable to decide where to put my energies. Do I write a new book, create some new poems or take a well deserved holiday before deciding on my next venture? I can’t make a decision on this until I know how much my independent assessment has been coloured by their meetings with WCBC.

I was told last week, that I could expect to hear back from Adult Social Care at the beginning of this week. At close of play today (Wednesday), I have still not heard anything. I believe a verdict is imminent, as I know a decision has already been made, but being kept in the dark about this is seriously damaging my physical and mental health.

The anxiety all this has caused me and other WILG recipients, is appalling. We should all be claiming compensation for the way we have had to wait, but I am sure we all agree that we just want it over and done with – as long as we end up with the support we need, to live on a level playing field with the rest of society.

Once again, many thanks for my birthday wishes and I hope that by this time next year, I am looking forward to the future with some degree of certainty.

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#SaveWILG Campaign Relaunched

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As many of my regular readers will know, I have spent the last 5 years campaigning to protect independent living for disabled with high support needs across Wales. In February 2019, we made a break through and the Welsh Government agreed to offer independent assessments to all recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant who did not agree with the decisions made by their Local Authority.

Since February, the Welsh Government have pulled out all the stops to make sure that WILG recipients have been assessed properly. They recruited the assessment company, ICS, to carry out the much needed reassessments and the majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019. WILG recipients were looking forward to resolving this issue before Xmas 2019, so that they could look forward to the future some degree of certainty.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo land and are unable to make plans for the long term future due to the fact that Local Authorities are dragging their feet and refusing to sign off the assessments made by ICS.

The fact that LAs are involved in this process is a contentious one as these are supposed to be independent assessments.The context is that these are being undertaken by ICS without its social worker having sight of any previous care assessments undertaken. This is as ICS did not want its social workers unduly influenced by what a local authority had undertaken or produced previously. Consequently, at the point ICS has concluded and quality assured its assessment on a person it does not know how the outcome of this compares to that which the person’s local authority has undertaken previously. In addition, a local authority may have some key information about a person or their care which may be relevant if ICS had known this.

This seems fair enough and WILG recipients have nothing to hide so would welcome LA involvement. If only it were that easy. I have had no reply to countless emails sent to WCBC this calendar year even though it is in the best interest of WCBC and myself to get this situation sorted once and for all. I must make it clear that I am very thankful to WCBC for agreeing to fund 24/7 support for myself while we await the outcome of the assessment. I appreciate this, but would still like to secure a long term plan that I know will see me through what is left of my life. Surely, a bit of security is not too much to ask while I continue to fight a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system…

The stress and anxiety that all this indecision and uncertainty is causing, recently forced me to spend a period of time in hospital with a nasty chest infection. I am slowly getting back on my feet, but this whole episode has just renewed my determination to get this this whole sorry mess sorted out once and for all.

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#SaveWILG Tweets

We have not forgotten…