Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act

R (Luke Davey) v. Oxfordshire CC Court of Appeal 2017 #SaveWILG

The following article is from a website produced by Luke Clements who is a Professor of Law at Leeds University and a Solicitor.

This is an invaluable piece of writing from Mr Clements who would certainly a good person to speak with and have as an ally for our campaign. I remember Sheila Meadows OBE mentioned the work that Mr Clements had been doing many years ago, but he recently came to my attention again following an email from Ann James who has a professional and personal interest in Social Care in Wales. She set up this journal with Luke Clements last Autumn and it is a resource which enables critical discussion and analysis of social welfare law in Wales. It also provides exposition of  the SS&WB (Wales) Act 2014, and provides briefings on aspects of the law.

It is really encouraging to have received an email from someone so knowledgeable at the start of a very important period for the #SaveWILG campaign.

Without further ado here is the excellent article that I will also email to all of my campaign team as we prepare for the Welsh Labour Conference on April 20-22.

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People in Wales in receipt of the Independent Living Grant, the Welsh Government’s interim measure to soften the blow of the closure the Independent Living Fund (ILF) would have followed R (Luke Davey) v Oxfordshire CC and the subsequent appeal with interest in the hope that the Court of Appeal would overturn the earlier High Court decision.

The Welsh Government has confirmed that the Independent Living Grant will continue in Wales until March 2018 and in the subsequent year all those who previously received the ILF will be re- assessed and have their care and support provided for by their local authority.

It is likely that many former ILF recipients will see attempts to reduce their care and support funding in the same way as Luke Davey.

In this case we have seen the High Court loathed to strike down the Local Authority decision as being irrational and the Court of Appeal found no reason to interfere with the decision of the High Court.

One should take heart that Davey does not give local authorities a carte blanche – and it should most certainly not be taken as creating an open season to cut services. It decides that the well-being duty is a legally enforceable obligation and that once a support plan has been agreed local authorities must provide the funds to meet every aspect of that plan. It also states – in terms – that once there is evidence that a direct payment is insufficient to secure suitably qualified carers then the local authority must address this by increasing the amount paid.

Davey is a case ‘on its facts’: disheartening and quite possibly a personal tragedy for Luke Davey. Cases of this kind come along infrequently but they do not upend the social care legal order.

For us in Wales, the excellent Merton decision and the facts of the Davey case, provides the basis for disabled people to expect an assessment that gives primacy to their well-being outcomes identified by the person being assessed or their advocates. It highlights that Local Authorities need to provide a rational for any changes in provision that will stand up to the test of irrationality should it be challenged in the Courts.

The transition to local authority provision for previous recipients of the ILF is not an automatic signal for a reduction in care provision for the individual who is eligible for care and support.

Response to Minister for Children and Social Care from Sheila Meadows OBE #SaveWILG

I have shared a letter below written by my friend and comrade Sheila Meadows OBE who started the fight to support disabled people with high care and support needs long before I appeared on the scene. Together we have been fighting for disabled people’s rights for over five years now.

She is responding to the letter I received from Huw Irranca-Davies last week. This can be viewed in full here.

I will write my own response to this letter shortly, but I doubt that I will be able to add much more than Sheila has already said. The following letter encapsulates all that we have been trying to get across, but the folk at Welsh Labour seem to lack the humanity and humility to listen and admit that they will need to revise their plans to close WILG before it is too late…

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Dear Mr Irranca-Davies

Thank you for your letter to Nathan Lee Davies. I will respond on a few points which I hope will contribute to the discussion and I ask you to respond to the final point so important in our discussions, but not addressed in your reply.  I refer to the triangulation we spoke at length about – the need for a third independent person or group with power who can mediate between the Local Authorities and recipients should this prove necessary.

You Wrote: …”separate public consultations held in 2014 – one for recipients and the third sector, and another for local authorities on the principle of four potential options for future support arrangements for former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). I would like to assure you this was not the case. Only one consultation was held with all the responses considered together.”

What we raised was that the analysis of the responses from recipient, third party organisations, etc. and LG were considered separately. Social Services responses indicated their desire to run the future ILF. This was supported by Welsh Government.

You Wrote: …”As Sheila may recollect as a member of the stakeholder group who advised Welsh Government, when the detail of how a resulting shortlist of options could be implemented that option was indeed considered further.”

Yes it was discussed further and the views of the SS representatives and LA were supported over the voice of the recipient.  I used to travel back form Cardiff feeling that I and the voluntary organisations had been able to convince the civil servants and others understand the problems we would face if the funding and decisions were left to our Local Authorities alone. The SSWB act, all assured me, would protect WILG recipients to live independently.   I was not then and have still to be convinced.

You Wrote: …”In addition many were concerned that the increased numbers of disabled people in Wales, who local authorities could claim funding for from the scheme, would result in the threshold to access this system having to be set at a very high level in order to make the scheme affordable.”

It is interesting that you highlight this particular issue as this was about the only issue we all agreed on, but not in the form you recall it.  As social services in the local area must fund or ensure the support of all disabled people who qualify for services, then it was seen by the whole group as fairer across Wales to have a higher threshold set. All agreed that the threshold was too low and would need to be raised considerably, but all felt this would be fair. 

  • When someone required a very large package of care the LA  could turn to a central source for financial support
  • It would also prevent local authorities ‘upping’ the cost of care provision to qualify for the enhanced payment which we know was done to attract ILF when central government ran it.
  • It was also seen as making it an ’All Wales standard’ of eligibility for enhanced care packages for those with the greatest disabilities.
  •  It would also have brought in one of the most important elements, someone/group, who would sit outside Local Government to monitor and mediate and ensure fairness across all authorities. 

Which brings me to my final comment; Nathan and I tried very hard to explain the importance of the ILF social worker in assessments and provision. They would hold LA to account if they were not fulfilling their agreed part in the contract and would also be equally determined that what the recipient or appointee had agreed was also being carried through.  Now if LA decide on a plan for you or in my case my son and I don’t agree, who do I turn to?  If my son is likely to suffer physically or mentally because of a decision, then I can complain but to whom?  To the LA?  How can it be possible to complain to someone about themselves and expect a reasonable outcome? Both Nathan and I thought we had explained this issue very fully with Mathew Hall, Head of Policy Division, but this issue is totally ignored in your letter. Once again, I am faced with the same issues, we have meetings, think the Civil Servants have listened and heard, but find the issues which they don’t fully understand, or unable to find a solution are  totally ignored.  I can understand that you don’t agree with my view but I feel there is a need to respond to the most important issue brought to the meeting.  We called it the ‘Black Hole’

The need for an independent third person is vital. After your visit we did get the letter you sent to Wrexham in November, thank you, it arrived in the middle of February!  Without your direct intervention would this have happened?  I am sure you will not want all such issues to be brought directly to you but to what other support do we turn when the Local Social Services are struggling and unable to communicate with us or support us.  You are aware of our experiences, is it any wonder we cannot trust Local Authorities on the future of WILG recipients to be able to live independently with adequate support? 

With thanks

Sheila Meadows

Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies AM #SaveWILG

I have received the following letter from Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Minister for Children and Social Care following our meeting last month.

I was disappointed with my performance at the meeting and now I am disappointed with the letter that the Minister has sent. It is the sort of letter we’d expect to get from a government minister; it appears detailed and thorough, but it seems to avoid the reality on the ground.

I also need to properly formulate my argument into five key points that I would like to ask the Minister to avoid him trailing off and talking about general issues. I will do this later this afternoon. I had hoped that by listening to me talk about the problems disabled people would be facing in dealing with local authorities only, that Huw Irranca-Davies would have responded with a more positive and original letter full of hope and pragmatic free thinking. Unfortunately, I received the following:

Dear Nathan

Thank you for meeting me to discuss the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and for sharing your experiences and concerns. It is important to me to see how the decisions we make as a government are translating into delivery for people on the ground. As we discussed, I am writing in response to some of the points which were raised, and to give you an update on further actions.

At our meeting you explained that you thought there had been separate public consultations held in 2014 – one for recipients and the third sector, and another for local authorities on the principle of four potential options for future support arrangements for former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). I would like to assure you this was not the case. Only one consultation was held with all the responses considered together.

You also raised the issue of accessibility of the consultation for recipients. To address this issue various versions of the consultation were produced including a Welsh language version, a braille version, easy-read and easy-to-read version. The latter versions were produced with assistance from the RNIB and Learning Disability Wales. I understand from my officials that a large number of the easy-read and easy-to-read versions were issued where recipients and their families felt these would aid their understanding of the consultation.

On the substantive issue of a scheme to succeed the ILF, you asked why the option of a Welsh Independent Living Scheme put forward by Stephen Harris of the Dewis Centre for Independent Living was not considered further, as you believed this option received most support from respondents. However, as the consultation summary indicates, the most supported option was in fact the potential for arrangements in Wales similar to that of the ILF. As Shiela may recollect as a member of the stakeholder group who advised Welsh Government, when the detail of how a resulting shortlist of options could be implemented that option was indeed considered further.

However, the Welsh Independent Living Scheme option did not make that shortlist for several reasons. While on the face of it the scheme would adhere to the principles behind the establishment of the ILF, many opposed it as the funding would not go to the individual but to their local authority to fund the cost of their care package. The only way under this option that recipients could continue to have control over the support payments they received would be through direct payments from their local authority. In addition many were concerned that the increased numbers of disabled people in Wales, who local authorities could claim funding for from the scheme, would result in the threshold to access this system having to be set at a very high level in order to make the scheme affordable. This was in light of the fixed, finite funding the UK Government transferred to the Welsh Government to fund the support of former recipients of the ILF. This could have had the potential to reduce the funding the scheme could provide to authorities in individual cases. In view of these concerns Ministers at the time concluded it was not suitable to pursue this option further.

It is important to emphasise that the decisions taken in consultation with the stakeholder group have at all times sought to ensure people with disabilities in Wales have the right to live independently at home and are supported to do so. As a government we have acted to underpin this in legislation through our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The Act is changing the way people are supported to give them more voice and control over the care and support they require to meet their own wellbeing outcomes. It is encouraging to see increasing evidence of this approach becoming standard practice across Wales to the benefit of those who rely on support, and with a positive effect on the future support packages which are being agreed for WILG recipients.

We also discussed the monitoring of the two year transition period, where I confirmed we collect periodic data from local authorities on their progress. As of November last year over 350 recipients in Wales, of the 1,300 recipients in total, were already in the process of agreeing their future support package with their authority, with over 30 having now decided to transfer to receiving their support through their support package. While this is positive, I agree we need to widen this monitoring to also collect qualitative data on the outcomes which WILG recipients are experiencing, and I am currently considering ways in which this could be done. In addition I am acutely aware if we are to support recipients to live independent lives, authorities need an appropriate amount of time to undertake reviews with them and for recipients to have time to agree their future support packages do this. As a result I am also considering whether there is a need to adjust the transition to allow authorities more time to complete these reviews given the numbers involved and the fact that a large number of recipients have complex care needs.

Finally, you raised several concerns about the approach of Wrexham County Borough Council to care assessments and to the transition process for recipients of the WILG to local authority support. In the light of your concerns my officials will seek direct assurances from the local authority over its implementation of the transition process and its reviews of recipients’ future support needs.

I will write to you again with a progress update on the transition to the new support payments, including any potential changes for the transition and the monitoring of the transition, and response to your concerns over local implementation. In the meantime I am copying this letter for information to both Ian Lucas MP and Sheila Meadows, and I thank you again for taking the time to meet me and discuss these important matters.

Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM
Y Gweinidog Gofal Cymdeithasol a Phlant
Minister for Children and Social Care

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I WILL BE RESPONDING TO THIS LETTER OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. MY RESPONCE WILL BE PUBLISHED ON THIS BLOG IN FULL.

MY MOVE…

 

Not Enough Hours in the Day #SaveWILG

I am sick of this.  It is 2018 and I am still being treated like a second class citizen.  I have a progressive condition of the nervous system which is accelerating at quite a rate, yet I still have the same amount of inadequate care and support hours  that I did in 2010 when I first began independent living.  Life is a struggle at the moment and on top of this stress, I am having to campaign wisely to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) plus lead the protests against the proposed Blue Badge charges in Wrexham town centre.

Furthermore, I have a #SaveWILG art exhibition starting at Theatre Clwyd in Mold on Wednesday 24th January and a community awareness day in Wrexham on Saturday 3rd February.  I am throwing myself into all this work in order to help disabled people live independently throughout Wales because I will always fight for what is right and stand up (!) for what I believe in. Bloody principles…

Having to do this with the extra pressures of time limitations is especially difficult.  How do I get across to you the difficulties of coping alone without the necessary assistance?  Unless you spend some time in my shoes it is difficult for you to comprehend the frustration that I face.  I will try to produce a short explanatory documentary one day, but for the best I come up with in a written timetable of my day.

20.01.18

00:00 – I’ve been in bed for two hours now after having to leave an engagement party, for a close friend, earlier than I would have wished if I could live my life without the shackles of limited care hours provided by Wrexham Social Services. I am writing on my laptop computer, but before my PA left he forgot to plug the computer into the socket.  I have just been told that I have 13 minutes left before the battery drains and the computer shuts down.  This is most annoying as all I need to do is switch the power on at the wall. Of course I cannot reach the plug and cannot call for help as no one is working at this hour.

02:00 –  Woke up needing to pass urine after drinking post 20:00, which is my usual cut-off time for fluids. I have an issue with urgency. When I want to go, I want to go but with me I have to take the time to raise my profiling bed, pull my light cord if it hasn’t fallen out of reach, tried to grab my urinal with spasticated hands and then breathe a sigh of relief. Finally if all goes to plan. Unfortunately, during recent months the plan has been coming together less often. This is not a nice admission for a 40-year-old man to have to make, but I am wanting people to realise the distress and discomfort that disabled people are having to put up with as cruel local authorities focus on budgets and ideological austerity that benefit the few at the expense of the many. Lying in your own piss is not fun and can cause skin irritation not to mention the demoralisation and embarrassment of spending countless hours pickling yourself in urine.

04:00 – I wake up shivering and thinking as it is impossible to find any comfort in a wet mattress. It does not help that I am restricted to one position at night and I cannot turn over unassisted. I decide that I will try to call my 68-year-old Father to ask for his help in changing the bed and restoring some comfort. However, my mobile phone has got wet and will not  function at all. I reach for my landline but my dexterity lets me down again and I drop the phone on the floor. I am now unable to contact anyone and will be forced to remain cold and sore until the morning shift arrives at 9:00.

06:00 – I am squinting at the clock on the other side of the room. I think it is 06:00 – only three hours of discomfort and helplessness left. My legs are aching as they are bent at the knees and I cannot straighten them myself. If only I had the support of a carer. When I asked for 24 hour care recently my social worker laughed at me and said that a lot of people think they are entitled to 24 hour care but no one in Wrexham receives such a package of support. She said she could put my request to panel but that they would almost certainly deny my please. I am not asking for the world. Just the opportunity to live in society on an equal footing to everyone else. I know I am better than the one, but at the same time I know that no one is better than me.

08:00 – The central heating has kicked in and I have just woken up in a sweat. I could do with opening the windows or maybe turning the heating down, but I cant do anything while I am stuck in bed unable to contact anyone.

09:00 – The cavalry has arrived. I immediately get out of bed with assistance and take a shower. This instantly improved my mood and I look forward to the day ahead, although I wish I could wash away the embarrassment as easily. Showering is a two person job and can take up to two hours to perform the whole task from bed to wheelchair including toileting and dressing. At 11:00 I can finally start reclaiming my dignity.

12:00 – After breakfast, the telephone rings. The person on the other end of the phone does not understand my voice as my speech is sometimes slurred due to my progressive disability. My PA is able to communicate for me. This is also the case with writing emails. In 2013, I wrote my first book. Over 500 hundred pages in length and something that I am very proud of, but there is no way I could do this now as writing a simple tweet can take me 30 minutes or more. The frustration is unbearable as my mind is as sharp and alert as ever but my body is keeping it prisoner.

13:00 – My PA is due to leave in 1 hour, so I am rushing through my emails trying to make sure everything is done in time as I will be left alone until 19:00. I am concentrating on emails though I am conscious that the ironing pile is building up and the floors could do with mopping. On week days, I have to fit in these emails around housework, appointments and meetings. There really is not enough hours in the day, thanks to Wrexham council…

15:00 – I have now been on my own for over an hour so I have already missed a telephone call and dropped a bottle of water on the kitchen floor where it will have to stay until 19:00. A delivery driver has just knocked on the door to deliver a parcel. This was rather embarrassing for me as usual because when my PA leaves me at 14:00, he or she has to leave my jeans undone so I can reach the crown jewels when I need to use the toilet. This is just another example of the lack of dignity I have to endure when I am left alone.

16:00 – I am rather peckish. I have plenty of food in the cupboards but I cannot reach the snacks that I crave. Even if I could, I would be unable to open the packaging due to my lack of dexterity. I suppose this stops me from becoming a fat bastard. Every cloud…

18:00 – I have just spotted some mail that I must have received earlier, but I cannot open it until later when a PA arrives. They will also have to mop the bathroom floor as I accidentally spilt some urine. My urinal tends to fill up between 14:00 and 19:00 making it heavy and difficult to handle. There are also a couple of books littering the living room floor as my dexterity will not allow me to flick through the pages of a book.

19:00 – The TV goes on and I watch soap operas about people having worse lives than me. This makes me feel semi normal for a minute until they start going on about family. I have a strong and supportive family through biology but I have not built one of my own. I subject myself to emotional turmoil and beat myself up for not achieving more with my life. This simple fact is that there is not enough hours in my day thanks to the irresponsible fascists promoting ideological austerity at Wrexham council. For example, there was recently a job opportunity for a Disability Liaison Officer at Wrexham AFC – that was built for me. I would have been perfect for this position, but could not apply as I simply cannot dedicate enough time to the club that I love, especially when I am alone without support between 14:00 and 19:00. It has also been suggested by my local MP that I should run for election to the local council. This would be one way of changing things and I would relish the challenge, but it is something that I cannot even entertain due to my lack of care and support. This clearly goes against everything set out in the Social Services and Well-being Act as I cannot begin to achieve my goals and aspirations, but the council cannot give a flying fuck about this and would undoubtedly breathe a sigh of relief at the news that I will not be running for public office.

21:00 – Coronation Street is over for another night. My friends were going out to celebrate someone’s birthday tonight. I was invited but as my friends met at 18:00 I could not join them. Another missed opportunity. I just have time to fire off a few emails, take my medication and brush my teeth before it is time to get entangled in my sling and hoisted into my half empty bed like a good little boy.

23:00 – Each night I take my laptop computer to bed in the hope that I will receive some exciting emails. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case unless you count the latest ramblings from Vox Political or Squawkbox. The difficulty is that when I am in bed I have to be in the right position to type. I often slip down the bed and end up in an impossible position. There have been times where I have had to call my Dad to help me save my laptop from falling on the floor, because it has slipped out my grasp and I cannot recover it safely. I usually stay up until 1:00 trying to type or watching TV as I struggle to sleep comfortably for reasons that I have outlined above. If More4 start showing repeats of Father Ted then I know it is getting late and time for sleep. I will venture into the land of nod just as soon as Dougal and Ted perform My Lovely Horse.

 

 

Letters to the chair of the Petitions Committee #SaveWILG

Below I have included the latest letters from Huw Irancca- Davies and myself for the attention of David Rowland’s AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee regarding the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

To read the letter from Huw Irancca-Davies, please click on the following link: 171115 P-05-771 Min for C & SC to Chair

 

My response can be read in full below.

29th January 2018

Dear Mr Rowlands,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to the letter you received from Huw Irancca- Davies AM regarding the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

I received a copy of the summary response to the WILG consultation, but in my original response to the Minister involved – Rebecca Evans AM – I challenged her to release the data collected in the consultation rather than an edited summary. I feel that the actual responses would provide a clearer picture and avoid any suspicion of doctoring the results to fit the Government’s aims.

As time ticks on this situation is getting more and more frightening. I believe a disaster is about to unfold and the Welsh Government does not have the humanity or humility to listen to the fears of disabled people and act accordingly when the overwhelming evidence indicates a step backwards for the right to Independent Living.

In 2015, in the report on the consultation responses, we were given the impression that a “successor body” would be put in place in the long term:

 “The Minister will reconsider the steps needed to develop a Welsh successor body to the current ILF as a longer term solution.”

One of the things that was made crystal clear throughout the consultation and all of the discussions, before and after, is that it is the experience of disabled people and unpaid Carers that some local authorities simply cannot be trusted to translate the 2014 Social Services and Well-being Act into genuine independent living for those who require high levels of support.

The Equality Impact Assessment on the decision to end WILG and hand responsibility to local authorities to assess and fund support for these disabled people asserted that: “Recipients in future will be supported by their local authority based on the well-being outcomes they are seeking to achieve. These will directly support their independent living. As such the rights of recipients to live as they wish will be upheld.” and promised that: “Over the period of the two-year transition period the Welsh Government will monitor how each local authority is progressing with its reviews of recipients and the outcomes that result from these. This will be to ensure that recipients have reviews to time, that their future well-being outcomes are being identified with them and that the support they require is being provided rather than separate payments from social care provision.”

Unfortunately, some local authorities have been seen to reject the core elements of the 2014 Act and assert that disabled people “must accept whatever local authorities decide for them” and that “disabled people cannot be allowed to tell paid carers how to support them because that would be illegal under health and safety law.” Some people who had been granted overnight cover were unable to employ staff because they only had a £30 per night budget – even after the authority had been shown case law on at least minimum wage payment for night working.

We live in an atmosphere of distrust of disabled people due to many years of right wing media representation of disabled people as liars and scroungers and this atmosphere and the attitudes it engenders pervades public life however much that is denied by authorities. Some people in receipt of WILG funding have been told explicitly that once they have been reassessed by the local authority their level of support will be reduced.

Welsh Government’s assertion that everyone’s wellbeing will be protected because of the 2014 Act is naive at best and dishonest at worst. It is no secret that a Medical Model attitude towards disabled people remains endemic and institutionalised across the public sector and it is clear from the regional needs assessments and particularly Social Care Wales’ summary report, that there is no understanding of the distinction between ‘being independent’ [meaning managing without support] and ‘Independent Living’ that Welsh Government have formally accepted as meaning disabled people living the lives they choose, in the way they choose and supported how, when, where and by whom they choose. I would like to explain just how worrying the current situation is; with the new proposal not ring-fencing the money, and the removal of the Welsh Government’s direct responsibility, the new outcome will almost certainly mean less money/carer hours for me, at a time when I am going to potentially require 24 hour, NON-RESIDENTIAL, care.

If recipients of WILG could see the “transformational change” across social services promised by successive Minsters and nominally guaranteed by the 2014 SSWb Act then I believe fears of unfair and inhuman treatment would to an extent be allayed. Unfortunately, what is experienced is that local authorities vary enormously as to whether their attitudes towards disabled people and genuine Independent Living reflect the 2014 Act or, in some cases, 1980s attitudes and policies that would sentence disabled people to isolation in their own homes or imprisonment in ‘care’ institutions. People who require support to use the toilet during the night are being instructed to use incontinence materials. People who have no independent mobility are being left in their homes without support for several hours at a time – in fear for their lives should any accident happen and intensely frustrated that they cannot function in any capacity until the next staff come on shift.

However, the other element of the Independent Living Fund was that independent Social Workers carried out the assessments and reviews so that disabled people felt protected by the independent oversight of a qualified and experienced social worker who could not be intimidated by the local authority.

What is needed urgently is a hold on transferring funding into full local authority control; we think although WILG is a much better option than the current proposal, it is something in itself that could be improved. We also note that current proposals do not take into account the capacity of the recipient to take on the delegated responsibilities. This seems to us to be a double-whammy against recipients.

I would like to place on record my thanks to Huw Irranca-Davies for taking the time to come and see me in my home. Can you please also make him aware of this. However, in retrospect, the one thing he did say that has kept me awake at night since, was “I am not here to change policy”. I, along with 1,500-odd other recipients, cannot contemplate this remaining as his ‘mantra’ going forward. This goes right to the heart of the issue-the Welsh Government must realise why this change is not necessary, absolutely not wanted, and not an option. Sorry to be blunt, but we are talking about massive, negatively life-changing consequences. It really is that serious.

Should you need any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch using my contact details above. I would be very grateful if you could ensure Huw Irranca-Davies personally receives a copy of this letter.

 THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I/WE TRULY APPRECIATE ALL SUPPORT & CONSIDERATION

Yours sincerely

Nathan Lee Davies

I have provided some links below to show how we are busy campaigning in the media and the community to Save WILG, despite my own personal high care and support needs:

https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/windfall-for-councils-savewilg/

https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/links-and-updates/

I also include below minutes of a meeting that I had with Huw Irancca–Davies concerning WILG. This meeting did little to address my fears for the future and no one seems to be listening to the voices of disabled people:

https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/minutes-of-meeting-with-hue-irranca-davies-savewilg/

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Both these letters will help the petitions committee decide on their next course of action when they meet on Tuesday morning.

Dear Petitioner

 Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 6 February; starting at 9.00am.

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

 http://senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=4523&Ver=4

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

 http://www.senedd.tv/  

Kind Regards

Petitions Committee

Silenced by Disability Wales

As I write this blog, I am feeling quite insulted as I have just received an email from the good people at Disability Wales who have sent me the agenda for their annual conference in Cardiff. It makes for interesting reading – not because of what it includes, but rather because of what it does not mention.

Of course, there are many important topics up for discussion with some excellent speakers – as well as Carl Sargeant AM. There is no doubt that this will be a well-organised and informative day, but to my mind there is one key issue that is missing from the agenda.

I received an email many moons ago, advising me that Disability Wales could not support my #SaveWILG campaign because of some political bias. This was disappointing and frustrating as I think that everything is political to a certain degree and I have made every effort to make my campaign about the future of independent living in Wales and beyond, rather than focusing on the failures of any political parties.

My campaign has been going really well without the support of Disability Wales. I have had my petition discussed by the Petitions Committee in the Senedd and they have agreed to the following :

  • Consider the petition further in the context of the budget announcement due later that afternoon; and in the meantime
  • Write to the Minister for Social Services and Public Health to share the concerns of the petitioner and ask:
    • whether she will publish the results of the public consultation and minutes of the stakeholder group as requested by the petitioner;
    • whether an Equality Impact Assessment of the decision was carried out and can be provided to the Committee and petitioner; and
    • for her views as to whether the planned transitional arrangements will ensure that the aims of the Social Services & Wellbeing (Wales) Act will have been put into practice by local authorities before the planned closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

This has all been achieved by me and my comrades so to be airbrushed from the main platform for disability activism in Wales is quite an insult. It is especially annoying as the reason that my campaign could not be supported by DW is so that they do not upset their funders even though my campaign is in the interests of DW members. I believe something’s are worth fighting for and I will continue fighting for my principles no matter who I disagree with.

I hope everyone enjoys the DW Conference and that the day is a success, but members should remember that they will not hear the voices of all disabled activists in Wales. If anyone who attends wants to contribute to the #SaveWILG campaign, please do get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or the Contact page.

Hello,
You are invited to the following event:

Annual Conference and AGM 19th October 2017

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Event to be held at the following time, date and location:

Thursday, 19 October 2017 from 09:30 to 15:30 (BST)

Orbit Centre
Rhydycar Business Park
CF48 1DL
United Kingdom

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During 2017, the review of the Framework for Action on Independent Living and the UN’s examination of the UK and Welsh Government regarding implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People has provided a timely focus on whether policies and provision in Wales deliver on disability rights and equality.

Furthermore, as arguments over ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit rage, what impact will it have on disabled people and following the outcome of the General Election, where does it leave the UK Government’s austerity agenda?

Disability Wales’s Annual Conference Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes explores these questions and issues with the assistance of a panel of expert speakers and round-table discussions.

  • Find out how Welsh Government proposes to take forward its commitment to disabled people’s rights from the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant AM
  • Hear how Access Consultant Dan Biddle challenges work place discrimination and barriers to employment
  • Learn about the EHRC’s approach to tackling discrimination faced by disabled people from Ruth Coombs, the new Head of Wales
  • Be inspired to campaign for change by leading disability rights activist Tara Flood from the Reclaiming our Futures Alliance
  • Network and exchange ideas with fellow DW members, stakeholders and supporters.
  • Be the first to preview DW’s new website as a tool for sharing information, resources and expertise on disability rights and equality

Annual Conference and AGM

Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes

Programme

9.30am:     Registration & Refreshments

10.15am:   Welcome and Scene Setting

                             Rhian Davies, Chief Executive

10.30am:   Personal Perspectives

Dan Biddle, Managing Director, Nationwide Access Consultants Ltd

10.45am:   Campaigning for Change

                             Tara Flood, Reclaiming our Futures Alliance

11.00am:   Regulating our Rights

                             Ruth Coombs, Head of Wales, EHRC

11.15am:   Panel Discussion

11.30am:   Break

11.45am:   Round Table Discussions

12.20pm:   Driving Forward Disability Rights

Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children

12.45pm:   Summary

1.00pm:     Lunch

2.00pm:     Website Launch

                             Demonstration: Promo Cymru

2.30pm:     AGM and Project Presentations      3.30pm:         Close

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We hope you can make it.

Best,
Disability Wales

Letter from Minister for Social Services and Public Health to the Chair of the Petitions Committee

David J Rowlands AM

Chair

Petitions Committee National Assembly for Wales

SeneddPetitions@assembly.wales

21 August 2017

Dear David,

Thank you for your letter seeking my views on a petition submitted to the Petitions Committee by Nathan Lee Davies in relation to the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

As Mr Davies outlines in his petition, the Welsh Government put in place in 2015 the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) with local authorities to enable them to maintain payments to recipients in Wales of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). This was following the closure at that time of the ILF by the UK Government. We introduced this grant to ensure continuity of support in the short-term for recipients. This was to help them meet the additional costs of living independently in the community in a similar manner to the financial support they received from the ILF. This arrangement was to provide time for us to consider the most appropriate way to provide support to recipients in the longer-term, so as continue their ability to live independently.

As Mr Davies indicates, to assist with our consideration of what that longer-term support should be a stakeholder advisory group had been established. This had representation from the organisations which represent and act for disabled people in Wales (such as Disability Wales and the Dewis Centre for Independent Living), representation from local authorities and some recipients themselves. The majority of the representatives on the advisory group were, as Mr Davies says, from the third sector or had themselves received payments from the ILF. This was because we wanted advice from those who fully appreciated the outcomes disabled people seek and what they required from the arrangements we were to put in place to support their independent living.

The advisory group considered a number of potential options to provide support in future to those who used to receive payments from the ILF. These ranged from perpetuating the WILG indefinitely, or for a set period of time, to establishing similar arrangements in Wales to that of the ILF outside of local authorities’ provision, to having support provided in future through local authorities’ social care. The advisory group considered the advantages and disadvantages of each option in terms of its effectiveness to support former recipients and its fit with supporting the larger group of disabled people in Wales who had been excluded by the UK Government from receiving support from the ILF (as it had in 2010 closed the ILF to new entrants).

I am not sure why Mr Davies thinks the advisory group wished to keep the WILG. On the contrary, overall it accepted that the arrangements we had put in place through the WILG could only ever be temporary while a longer-term solution was found. After considering the potential options in the light of the issues I set out above, the advisory group on balance favoured the option of future support being provided by local authorities as part of their social care provision. None of the members of the advisory group opposed this recommendation.

The advisory group favoured this option as it matched the future support former recipients would receive with that being provided generally to disabled and older people in Wales. This is through our new person-centred ethos for social care being delivered through the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The Act came into effect from April last year and changes the way people’s needs are assessed and the way support is delivered. People now have more of a say in the well-being outcomes they wish to achieve and the care and support they require to deliver those outcomes. This is similar to the ethos behind the original establishment of the ILF. The Act also contains stronger powers to keep people safe from abuse and neglect.

The advisory group also saw this option as the way forward as it removed the inequitable two-tier approach which currently exists to supporting disabled people in Wales, with some receiving only support from their local authority, while others can receive this as well as dedicated payments from the WILG.

It is also important to note that prior to the advisory group’s considerations we undertook a public consultation on a number of possible options to provide support in future. While it is true that the majority of those who responded favoured arrangements in Wales similar to those of the ILF, this was not the option favoured by all recipients who responded. Indeed the vast majority of recipients did not respond to the consultation at all. Nevertheless, my officials did contact those in the Scottish Government to establish the basis of the dedicated support arrangements for former ILF recipients in Scotland and the possibility of those arrangements being extended to Wales.

While ILF Scotland could administer and make payments on behalf of the Welsh Government, it became clear it would not be in a position to do this for a considerable period of time. In addition, it required significant set-up and operating funding to administer our payments, totalling in the first year of operation well over £1 million with annual operating funding in excess of £0.750 million. Such funding would have needed to be top-sliced from the overall funding available to support former recipients in Wales, thereby substantially reducing the funding available for their support itself. On this basis we did not believe that these arrangements would be acceptable given the reduction in support to which it would lead, or that they provided good value for money. Overall the advisory group shared this view and was keen that already limited funds were not used disproportionately on establishing and maintaining separate arrangements to provide support.

Consequently, I accepted the stakeholder advisory group’s advice to have support to former ILF recipients in Wales provided in future by local authorities as part of their social care provision. To put this into place the advisory group also recommended that there should be a two year transitional period, whereby in the first year authorities establish all recipients’ desired well-being outcomes and agree with them the support they require to achieve these. In the second year recipients would transfer over to receiving all of their support from their local authority, with their payments under the WILG ceasing at the point at which this occurred. I also accepted this recommendation in full, with as a result the transitional period commencing from 1 April this year and due to conclude on 31 March 2019.

Clearly those who wished to see a different option chosen will be disappointed with the decision taken. However, that decision did not ignore the advice of the representatives of disabled people in Wales on the stakeholder advisory group but was fully in accordance with it.

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca Evans AC/AM

Gweinidog Iechyd y Cyhoedd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol

Minister for Social Services and Public Health