Scottish Independent Living Fund

Writing to local newspapers…

I have written the following letter to a number of local newspapers across Wales, urging the Welsh Government to reconsider their decision to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).The campaign for justice continues…

If you wish to write a letter in support of this campaign, use the following emails:

This is the email that I fired off in the hope that people will read it and take notice of what is going on. It is worth a go.

 

I am writing as a recipient of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and a disability activist who intends on asking Welsh Labour to reconsider their decision to close WILG as of April 2019. This payment was introduced to help people who previously claimed from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed in 2015.

WILG was due to run until the end of March 2017, but Social Services Minister Rebecca Evans said in November that funding would continue for another year.

The annual £27m fund will then transfer directly to local authorities during 2018-19 so they can meet the support needs of all former ILF recipients by 31 March 2019.

Something needs to be done as our disabled friends in England have suffered under a similar system that has seen local authorities being solely responsible for their care and support since 2015. This cannot be allowed to happen in Wales as well. Disabled people must organise themselves and demand to be listened to.

The Welsh Government said the decision was taken on stakeholder advice. The majority of representatives on the stakeholder group were third sector or citizens who didn’t want WILG scrapped. The key point is that the advice of disabled people was ignored.

This is the time to fight back as Welsh Labour are basking in the glory of Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the recent General Election. The prevailing mood has changed and Welsh Labour have apparently made a significant shift to the left. Surely, Welsh Labour will want to distance themselves from a decision that mirrors the one made by the Tory Government in 2010?

It should also be remembered that closure of WILG is not inevitable as is proved through the formation and success of the Scottish Independent Living Fund; which also works to support the Northern Ireland ILF.

Furthermore, the hugely popular Labour Party Manifesto outlined plans to set up a national care system to exist independently of local authorities. This is exactly the time that the Labour Party should be united on such issues against the Tories. We must question why Welsh Labour are not playing their part in the changing political landscape?

They will no doubt argue that we should give the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act a chance to succeed. However, this idealistic act needs hefty investment and resources to ensure it is a success – with no sign of any of the necessary improvements to our infrastructure that the success of the Act depends on. This may indeed be the time for a revolutionary change in the way social care is delivered, but such a transformation could take a decade or more and WILG recipients do not deserve to be treated like guinea pigs when their high care and support needs require long-term stability and structure. 

Indeed, eventually it should be our aim to set up an Independent Living Fund for Wales so that no disabled person should have to suffer the same uncertainty and isolation as WILG recipients are now experiencing. We can only begin to believe that true social justice and equality for all is possible if Welsh Labour revisit their WILG decision…

There are a number of ways that WILG recipients, family members and personal assistants can help to make a difference. Those concerned can sign the petition that has currently received almost 250 signatures, take part in the postcard campaign that is being orchestrated across social media and put pen to paper to their local AM. To find out more about these projects, please contact Nathan Lee Davies at nathandavies01@hotmail.com or search Facebook for the Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) page. Twitter users can find me on @nathanleedavies or you can find all the information about this campaign on my blog at https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your time.

Nathan Lee Davies, Wrexham

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Fighting for independent living in Wales

ASSISTANCE NEEDED FROM PEOPLE ASSISTED BY ILF IN SCOTLAND OR NORTHERN IRELAND. PLEASE READ ON FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

ADAPTED FROM Disability Rights UK Factsheet F698

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was a, Government funded, discretionary scheme which helped people who had both day and night care needs and who were getting the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance. Those helped under the scheme were able to receive a joint ILF/local authority funded care support package to help them live independently in the community rather than in residential care.

The UK-wide Independent Living Fund (ILF) has now been closed since 1 July 2015.

In England, local authorities are responsible for care provision rather than the ILF.

Meanwhile, disabled people in Scotland receive help from a new Scottish Independent Living Fund from ILF Scotland.  Northern Ireland have also set up their own ILF administered by Scotland.

In Wales we are clouded in uncertainty with the temporary Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) which is due to run until April 2017 – depending on confirmation beyond March 2016.

I have teamed up with a friend of mine – Sheila Meadows OBE – to launch a campaign to try to protect independent living in Wales by ensuring that when WILG finally expires it is replaced by something similar to what has been established in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We certainly don’t want the Welsh government to follow the lead of England by giving funds for Independent Living to local authorities.  Councils are already under extreme financial pressures and the concern is that funds meant for the benefit of disabled people would be used in other areas such as education, transport or maintenance.

Therefore, I would like to ask disabled people, their families and carers in Scotland and Northern Ireland for their opinions and experiences of the new ILF packages they receive.  How was the transition from the ILF to the new Scottish administered system? Did you need to be reassessed to qualify for the fund? Have you had a reduction in your hours of care/work?  Have you experienced any glitches in the new system or is it as dependable as the former ILF?  Do you now have long term security? Has there been an increase or decrease in your personal contribution to the fund?

The answers to questions such as these would be central to our fight to create a similar system and sense of security in Wales.  Any help that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  You can email me via the form on the Contact page, or tweet me at @nathanleedavies

ANY INFORMATION SHARED WILL BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY.

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

FURTHER READING

http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/149987/our-fight-to-fund-independent-lives-in-flintshire-and-wrexham.aspx#.VZu96zMTWf4.twitter

http://www.independentlivingfund.scot/

http://www.independentlivingfund.scot/northern-ireland-independent-living-fund/