Social Services

Letter from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM – #SaveWILG

I received the following letter from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan AM ahead of our meeting tomorrow.

I was a little disappointed and confused by this letter and the whole host of concrete evidence that it ignores in favour of working towards saving the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We will reserve these arguments for our meeting tomorrow and look forward to working with Julie Morgan to help safeguard independent living for disabled people with high care and support needs in Wales.

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21 January 2019

Dear Nathan,

I am looking forward to meeting both you and Sheila Meadows at your home on 24 January to discuss the position on the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). In advance of this I thought I would let you know of the outcome of the recent “deep dive” review which local authorities were instructed to do before Christmas. This was so that we were assured of the position on the transfer of people’s support to authorities’ social services.

As you may know to be assured of this position the former Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care instructed all local authorities to review all cases where, following an assessment of someone’s care needs, there was an intention to reduce the local authority’s direct support to the person in what would have been the WILG element of their overall support. This was to identify the reasons for these, the exact scale of any reductions and to receive from each authority a personal assurance that where this was to occur it was appropriate and did not impact on that person’s ability to live independently in the community.

These deep dive reviews were undertaken at the end of 2018 and a summary of the
outcome is attached for your information. Of the 1,174 people who had completed at that time their future care review as part of this transfer, only in 157 cases (13%) was a reduction in the former WILG element of their support proposed as a result. In the majority of cases people’s care reviews had identified them as requiring future care of a similar nature and level to that they currently received, while people were to receive a higher level and intensity of care following their review in a slightly higher number of cases to that where a reduction was proposed.

Where a reduction was proposed, the level of this varied from individual to individual depending upon their particular circumstances and the reason for their reduction. Hence most people to receive a reduction in the former WILG element of their support were to receive a reduction of between 1-14 hours a week, with a wide range of reasons for this.

Of particular note were instances where a change in social care support, either in the way this is provided or of a different type, has had a consequential effect on the level of formal care a person requires. There were also a number of cases where people had developed a need for healthcare since the ILF’s last care reviews undertaken in 2015 and hence no longer have a requirement for social care. In addition, there were instances where changes were to be made to the commissioning arrangements or level of support for a person, due to the full value of their funding not being fully utilised previously. Often this was at the request of the person or their family.

To ensure local authorities had undertaken these deep dive reviews correctly, the former Minister met at the end of last year local authorities’ relevant social care Cabinet Members and all Directors of Social Services (or their representatives) on a regional basis. This was to question them on the outcome of their deep dive reviews to ensure the support they were putting in place for people was genuinely helping them to live independently and to give authorities the opportunity of raising any implementation issues they were encountering.

During these meetings local authority representatives provided their personal assurance that where reductions were to occur these were appropriate, did not impact on that person’s ability to live independently in the community and, in the vast majority of cases, had been agreed with the person concerned. Where they had not been agreed with the person authorities were seeking to resolve this with them. In addition, no major implementation issues were raised by authorities as being of concern.

There is, as I am sure you will agree, a critical need to ensure that the completion of this transfer of support for those people affected is undertaken correctly in a manner which does truly support their ability to continue to live independently. As a result, to ensure I have a full picture of the issues I am currently getting myself appraised of the background to this issue, the action to date and the implications of the outcome of the deep dive review the former Minister undertook.

Perhaps we could discuss this outcome when we meet, as well as your and Sheila’s concerns, so that I can decide what further action may need to be taken to ensure the transfer is effective in supporting independent living.

I am copying this letter and its attachment to Shelia Meadows and look forward to meeting your both this Thursday.

Yours sincerely

Julie Morgan AC/AM
Y Dirprwy Weinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

Letter from David J Rowlands, AM #SaveWILG

Below I have copied a letter from David J Rowlands, AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee. That should be of interest to all WILG recipients and their families. 
 

 8 August 2018 

 

Dear colleague, 

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

The Petitions Committee is considering the following petition, which was received from Nathan Lee Davies having collected 631 signatures: 

 I am a recipient of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and a disability activist who intends on asking Welsh Government to reconsider their decision to close WILG as of April 2019.  

The WILG was introduced to help people who previously claimed from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed in 2015. More  than 1,500 people are helped by the scheme across Wales. Recipients all  have high degree of care and support needs. 

It 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. 

 Additional information: 

Why we oppose this decision: 

 The Welsh Government said the decision was taken on stakeholder advice. The majority of representatives on the stakeholder group were third sector or citizens. But they didn’t want WILG scrapped and the key point is that our advice was not accepted. 

 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? 

 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. 

 Welsh Labour 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. 

 Most recently, the Committee held evidence sessions with the petitioner and the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care. Details of all the evidence received to date can be found here: http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=19785&Opt=3 

 The Committee has agreed to seek the views of others who may have a perspective on the petition and the decision to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant from March 2019. 

 We would therefore be extremely grateful to receive any views you have in relation to the following issues (or any other matters which you feel are relevant): 

  • The Welsh Government’s decision to transfer funding for the Welsh Independent Living Grant to local authorities. 
  • The potential benefits or problems which may arise from supporting WILG recipients through local authority social care provision in the future. 
  • The current transition process, including assessment by local authorities, and any feedback from WILG recipients. 
  • If you (or your organisation) was involved in the work of the ILF stakeholder advisory group, your experience of this process and the extent to which the group’s deliberations and final recommendation reflected the views of members. 
  • Any alternative approaches that you believe should have been taken by the Welsh Government, or any changes which should be made at this stage. 
  • Any other views or comments that you have in relation to the petition. 

I would be grateful if you could provide any response which you wish to make by e-mail to the clerking team at SeneddPetitions@assembly.walesif possible by Friday 14 September 2018. 

Please feel free to share this letter with others who you feel would have views to share on any of the above. 

Responses are typically published as part of our Committee papers and will be discussed at a future Committee meeting. 

 Yours sincerely 

 David J Rowlands AM Chair