UNCRPD

Open Letter to First Minister Mark Drakeford #SaveWILG

Dear Mark

This is an incredibly worrying time for all disabled people and their families across Wales.  There are only 63 days left before the Welsh Independent Living Grant is due to end, leaving individuals at the mercy of cash-strapped Local Authorities  who seem intent on cutting vital support packages across the board with no guarantee that further cuts will not follow.

The fact that this neo-liberal policy is still being forced through by a Welsh Labour Government is unbelievable: frankly, it makes it even worse. I always thought that I would be protected from the brutality shown by the Tories in Westminster, because I live in a land governed by a social, democratic party. Unfortunately, the Party that I know and love seem to have lost their way under the previous leadership, which is why I was overjoyed by your election victory to become our new First Minister.

I am confident that Welsh Labour is now travelling in the right direction towards a socialist future which you championed during the Leadership Hustings. In an interview with the BBC you also said the following about the future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant:

…”if an independent evaluation “shows the new system is not working as well as the old one then I would be prepared to reverse it because this is money intended for a very specific number of people for a very specific purpose”.

The deep-dive that was recently undertaken by the Welsh Government, to analyse the performance of Local Authorities relating to the WILG transition, is full of errors and quite frankly not worth the paper it is written on. How can an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the end of WILG be conclusive without having consulted disabled people who will be affected? My comrades dismantled the deep-dive results in our recent meeting with Deputy Health Minister, Julie Morgan AM.

The closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant is such a destructive move to disabled people’s rights and I do not believe that a progressive Party such as ours should be going down such an avenue.

#SaveWILG campaigners have presented the Deputy Health Minister with an 80 page dossier of evidence against the closure of WILG. In addition, we have the backing of Welsh Labour members who overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Clwyd South motion to save WILG at Conference in April 2018. I believe you pledged to listen to the voices of members during the Hustings and they have certainly been vocal on this subject. We have also had support from Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MP’s such as Chris Williamson, Ian Lucas and Chris Ruane. Film Director Ken Loach also supports our campaign.

Criticism of Welsh Government policy on Independent Living has also been made by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD):

However, various disability organisations in Wales had advocated setting up a national independent living scheme in Wales as aligning with a citizen directed system of support rather than the approach now adopted by the Welsh Government.

We recommend that the CRPD Committee asks:

Can the Welsh Government explain:

How it reached a decision to move all ILF recipients to normal social care provision from 31 March 2019, rather than setting up a national independent living scheme?

How it will ensure protection for article 19 rights of those formerly eligible for the Independent Living Fund after 31 March 2019?

I do not believe Welsh Labour should be having to defend themselves against the UN as I know your personal intentions are to ensure universal equality throughout Wales, but now is the time to take positive action and start listening to Welsh Labour members and disabled people and their families.

Personally, I have been treated abysmally by my Local Authority. I find myself in the position of having to teach my social worker about the Social Services and Well being Act. I am not being allowed to use my Direct Payments to meet my Personal Outcomes as described in the SSWBA and feel this vindicates my insistence on the need to maintain the tripartite system when deciding on and funding future care provision.

The reassessment process – which was originally due to end by September 30th 2018 and shows no sign of being completed soon – is really having a negative impact on my physical and mental health. When I first met with my social worker at the end of November 2018, she laughed when I suggested that I would need 24/7 support. She declared that no one in Wrexham gets such a thorough level of support [whether they require it or not?]. She said that even if we applied for such levels of care and support, that the panel would not accept such a request. This is a total departure from what the SSWBA promises. There is definitely no co-production going on and Local Authorities seem to be treating disabled people as a burden.

Without the overnight support I need to fully function in society, I have to stop drinking at 8pm at night, get ready for bed at 10pm and cannot wear my hand splints or use my leg supports during long and uncomfortable nights. I often find myself having to call on my 68-year-old father to assist me in the night, even though he lives a 10 minute drive away and has arthritis in both hands.

As Tanni Grey-Thompson said on Wales Live (23/01/19), it will cost the Welsh Government more in the long term to push ahead with this strategy of devolving funding to Local Authorities. It just makes no sense whatever way you look at it. Disabled people and their families never wanted such a situation to develop as was indicated in the original consultation that took place during 2015/16. I have been asking to see the consultation documents since October 2017, but I keep being directed towards a summary document. We all know that a summary can be manipulated and edited to suit the publishers. If the summary is accurate why can I not access original consultation responses?

It is often claimed by the Welsh Government that the original stakeholder group were united in agreement with the closure of WILG and the transferring of funds to local authorities.This is quite simply untrue. The members of the stakeholder group that I have spoken to have stated their frustrations with the whole process: “I disagreed with one side of the room almost continuously,“ and “I would be amazed to see minutes of a meeting where all participants agreed that passing this WILG over to the local authority beyond the ring-fenced period was the way forward.”  Others have said “I used to go home from all these stakeholder groups thinking we had agreed certain things to discover that was not what had been recorded.” and other activists argue that many officials and civil servants do not actually “know what Independent Living means – they still think ‘independent’ means managing without support”.

It would greatly assist me in understanding Welsh Government’s decision making process on this issue if the minutes of all of the meetings of the stakeholder advisory group can be provided, and I will submit a Freedom of Information Act request if necessary.

I could go on and on, but time is against me and I would merely be repeating much of what can be read in my attached dossier of evidence. At over 80 pages long, I believe it is a comprehensive guide as to why the Welsh Independent Living Grant should be maintained indefinitely. The dossier includes information of the success of the Independent Living Schemes set up in Scotland and Northern Ireland that shows the lack of imagination shown by the Welsh Government compared to our neighbours.

Please note that this letter is written with the deepest respect towards yourself and your cabinet members. I am a loyal Welsh Labour supporter and I have belief in the 21st Century socialism that you intend on developing. The problem is that we cannot wait any longer and the changes need to be made immediately. There is no sense in a proud socialist Government copying the exact same model rolled out by the Conservative Party in Westminster.  Moreover, if the original decision was wrong then your team needs to have the courage to simply reverse it.  Tinkering with the detail in a bid to spare the blushes of your predecessors is just not acceptable: in fact it’s morally dishonest.

I know that you are extremely busy with Brexit and other pressing concerns, but disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales are in need of your leadership now. I look forward to meeting you again in the near future and should you require any more information from the #SaveWILG campaign, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Wishing you strength and solidarity

In hope…

Nathan Lee Davies
#SaveWILG campaign

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

‘Disabled People in Wales’ by Rhian Davies (Disability Wales)

Below I have shared a series of facts and figures that have been put together by Rhian Davies of Disability Wales, who I was lucky enough to hear speaking at the UNCRPD report launch in Parliament last week.

I was really  impressed by her speech which included loads of statistics that I thought would be useful for composing Tweets. She has kindly agreed to allow me to publish the following on my blog to publicise the depth of the problems facing disabled people in Wales.

I would like to express my thanks to Rhian and everyone at Disability Wales for their ongoing support.

***

If you are active on Twitter, please feel free to adapt any of the information below to compose Tweets.

Disabled People in Wales 

  • Disabled people comprise 26% of the Welsh population, higher than any other nation or region in the UK (ONS Family Resources Survey 2015/16) 

Poverty and the Impact of Welfare Reform 

  • Nearly 40% of disabled people in Wales live in poverty, compared with 22% of non-disabled people, higher than anywhere else in the UK (JRF, 2018)
  • 34 per cent of children who lived in a household where there was someone with an impairment or health condition were in relative income poverty compared with 26 per cent in households where no-one was disabled (National Survey for Wales 2017-18). 
  • Evidence from the National Survey for Wales 2017-18 shows that 25 per cent of people with a ‘limiting long-standing illness’ or impairment report being in a household in material deprivation compared to 12 per cent of people without a limiting long-standing illness or impairment

  • Welfare reform continues to subject disabled people to tightening eligibility, the removal and sanctioning of benefits and the spare room subsidy removal (“bedroom tax”). In addition the roll out of Universal Credit, is set to affect 8 million households across the UK, of which 58% will have a Disabled member

  • It is estimated that in Wales almost a third of DLA Claimants were refused PIP, amounting to a total loss of £87m https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45100070 
  • Citizens Advice Cymru state that Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are the two benefits people using their services had the most problems with during 2016/17) 

Disabled People and Employment 

  • In 2017, 18 per cent of the working-aged disabled population in Wales held no qualifications compared to 6 per cent of the working-aged population that were not disabled. Disabled People were also less likely to have degree level qualifications: 26 per cent of the working-aged disabled population held qualifications at level 4 or above, compared to 41 per cent of the non-disabled working-aged population

  • For the year ending 31 March 2018 the employment rate among disabled people aged 16-64 in Wales was 45.2%. The equivalent figure among people in Wales who are not disabled was 80.3%. Hence, there was a disability employment gap in Wales of 35.1 percentage points (pp) for the year ending 31 March 2018. This disability employment gap has barely changed in recent years.

  • In some areas of Wales, the Disability Employment Gap is substantially higher: 50% in Neath and Port Talbot and 44% in Merthyr Tydfil and Conwy (Citizens Advice Cymru, 2018)

  • The disability pay gap in Wales as recorded in 2015/16 is 13.3 per cent.  
  • In February 2018, the National Assembly for Wales’ Economy and Infrastructure Committee published a Report, ‘Apprenticeships in Wales’. The Report included 14 recommendations. Recommendation 2 stated that the Welsh Government should produce a clear disabled person specific action plan to address the under representation of disabled people in Apprenticeships (currently 1.3%). This recommendation was accepted by the Welsh Government. Disability Wales is among a number of stakeholders contributing to the development of the Action Plan 

Housing 

  • Despite the recent investment by the Welsh Government to build 20,000 new homes by 2021 there remains a severe shortage of accessible and wheelchair-accessible housing in Wales. Welsh Government is yet to set any targets for the number of accessible homes within this figure. (EHRC Wales, 2018) 
  • Only one local authority out of 22 has set any targets for a percentage of accessible and affordable housing. Only 15% of LA’s said that the information they hold about disabled people’s housing requirements was ‘good’ (EHRC Wales, 2018). 

Hate Crime and Domestic Abuse 

  • The latest data on recorded hate crimes in Wales where disability was judged to be a motivating factor show a 39 per cent increase (to 338 recorded crimes in 2016-17) compared to a year earlier. Disability was judged to be a motivating factor in one in ten hate crimes recorded Wales in 2016-17.

  • For Wales and England combined in 2016-2017, both disabled women and men were more likely to be victims of any domestic abuse in the last year (15.9 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively), compared with non-disabled people (5.9 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively) 

Participation and Social Inclusion 

  • National Survey for Wales data demonstrates that life satisfaction was generally lower for disabled people (mean score in 2017-18 was 7.2) than for non-disabled people (8.0)

  • The National Survey for Wales in 2017-18 reported that a lower proportion of people with a limiting long-term illness or health problem had attended or participated in an arts, culture or heritage activity at least three times in the last year (64 per cent, compared with 80 per cent for people without a limiting illness).

Disability News Service: Ministers ‘failing to uphold a UN disability convention they do not understand’

The following article was taken from the excellent Disability News Service website, written by John Pring.  This blogger takes no credit for the article below:

***

Government ministers are failing to uphold the rights of disabled people, ignoring the need to engage with disabled people’s organisations, and do not understand the UN’s disability convention, according to a new report.

The highly-critical report has been compiled by disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) across the UK and submitted to the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities.

It analyses how the UK and devolved governments have responded to key parts of last year’s highly-critical report by the committee on the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The new report includes some criticism of the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales – and raises concerns about the impact of the continuing political impasse over the Northern Ireland Executive – but most of its concerns are directed at the UK government in Westminster.

The UK government, the report says, is responsible for “continuing retrogression and re-institutionalisation” of disabled people and continues to disagree with the UN committee’s findings and recommendations.

It adds: “We have concerns that the UNCRPD is not embedded within government and is poorly understood at all levels, including ministerial.”

It provides the example of international development secretary Penny Mordaunt, who appeared to try to redefine the meaning of inclusive education at the government’s Global Disability Summit in July, telling the international audience that inclusive education meant “that everyone has an education and it is done in a way to reach their full potential”.

The report says that many of the concerns raised by DPOs last year in their evidence to the UN committee remained a “significant problem”, with disabled people still subject to “tightening eligibility” for support, the removal and sanctioning of benefits and the bedroom tax.

It also raises concerns about the continuing rollout of universal credit (UC) and says DPOs are “gravely concerned” at the failure to assess the access needs of disabled people due to be moved onto UC and the lack of the necessary data to monitor its impact.

It warns that the social care funding crisis has led to the removal of further essential independent living support for disabled people and the closure of community services for people with mental distress, while increasing social care charges are leaving thousands of disabled people in debt or choosing to pull out of receiving support completely.

The DPOs also point to the chronic shortage of accessible housing in England, with new housing for disabled people often limited to segregated supported housing complexes.

And the report says that the number of disabled children being forced into special schools is rising, while budget cuts are reducing the quality of inclusive education, and the number of disabled pupils left without any educational placement at all has risen, as has the number of disabled pupils excluded from school.

Among the DPOs that contributed to the report are the Alliance for Inclusive EducationDisability Action (Northern Ireland)Disabled People Against CutsDisability WalesInclusion LondonInclusion Scotland, the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance and Sisters of Frida.

They make 22 recommendations of their own that are aimed at the UK government, including calling for: a new legal right to independent living; the abolition of charging for social care; an end to the practice of placing disabled children and young people in long-stay hospitals; and a new social security system that is based on “an accurate analysis of need” and is “consistent with a human rights approach to disability”.

There are also four recommendations for the Welsh government – including a call to incorporate the UNCRPD into Welsh law – and six for the Scottish government, including the need for a national strategy on the provision of accessible housing.

The DPOs conclude that examples of “progressive” policy-making have been restricted to the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, although the two executives are “not without room for improvement” themselves.

There is also repeated criticism in the report of the UK government’s “inadequate engagement” with DPOs and its failure to recognise the importance of consulting disabled people.

The report says that “engagement with non-user-led charities is continuously prioritised over engagement with DPOs”, while requests by DPOs to meet ministers “are frequently turned down”.

It also says that engagement with the UK government is “undermined by an increasing lack of trust”, and warns that “without trust, consultation and engagement cannot take place in ‘good faith’”.

The report does welcome one measure taken by the UK government, the increased funding for disabled facilities grants, although it warns that “delays in processing applications can still be a problem for under-resourced local authorities”.

This week’s report follows the publication of the government’s own progress report last month.

The DPO report is highly critical of the government’s progress report, accusing it of effectively ignoring many of the UN committee’s recommendations.

One of the recommendations ignored, it says, was to carry out a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) of its cuts and reforms on disabled people, with the UK government continuing to insist that this is not possible.

It points out that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a CIA earlier this year, while the Greater London Assembly is conducting its own CIA for London “using the same methodology as the EHRC”, and both the Scottish and Welsh governments are “exploring carrying out their own”.

There is also frustration at the government’s failure to follow up the UN committee’s recommendation that it should devise a “comprehensive” plan aimed at the “deinstitutionalisation” of disabled people, in “close collaboration” with DPOs.

Disability News Service: Welsh government’s ‘ludicrous’ failure on independent living framework

The following article was taken from the excellent Disability News Service website, written by John Pring.  This blogger takes no credit for the article below:

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The Welsh government has been criticised for a “ludicrous” and “insulting” failure to address the adult social care funding crisis in a new draft framework on independent living.

Action on Disability, its new draft framework and action plan, was put out to consultation this week, and aims to “develop and improve access to help, advice and services for disabled people in Wales”.

The plan will eventually replace the Welsh government’s 2013 framework for action on independent living and follows a series of meetings and engagement events with disabled people, disability organisations and other stakeholders.

The report says that this public engagement process saw concerns raised about “cuts to social care provision” which had led to “lower allocations” of direct payments, leaving disabled people “increasingly isolated, and the impacts to their wellbeing compromised”.

But despite these concerns, the action plan refers only to previous strategies on services for visually-impaired people, Deaf and autistic people and those with learning difficulties, and fails to include any measures to address the cuts to support and the social care funding crisis.

This contrasts with its 2013 framework, which included lengthy sections on access to social care, direct payments and personalised support.

Of 44 actions supposedly aimed at improving the right to independent living in the new action plan, not one of them explicitly addresses the need to improve the overall access to care and support, although it does promise a review of the aids and adaptations system that supports disabled and older people to live independently in their own homes.

Instead, the action plan covers areas including disability employment, higher education – including a planned review of policy on disabled students’ allowance – public appointments, and access to public transport.

There is also no mention of social care in the section describing the Welsh government’s “commitments” on independent living, even though it promises to “work for continuous improvement” on how it fulfils its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The failure of the action plan to suggest any measures to address the funding crisis and cuts to support suggests the Welsh government is in breach of the convention’s article 19, which says that governments signed up to UNCRPD should take “effective and appropriate measures” to enable disabled people to live in the community with “full inclusion and participation”.

There is also no mention in the document of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), and the Welsh government’s decision to close its interim Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme, which it has been running as a stopgap with UK government transition funding since ILF closed in June 2015.

Because of the WILG closure, Welsh local authorities will be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients by 31 March 2019.

Nathan Lee Davies (pictured), who is leading the campaign to persuade the Welsh government to overturn its decision to scrap WILG, said the failure to address social care in the action plan was “ludicrous” and “insulting”.

He said: “They seem like a load of ostriches burying their heads in the sand. It’s just really worrying.

“I am disillusioned but far from surprised. It just seems like they are copying what the Tories have done in Westminster, with the same devaluing of disabled people.”

He suggested that the Welsh Labour government had simply published a “flimsy” framework document in order to “placate the UN, and to be able to say, ‘look, we are doing something to support disabled people’”.

He said that ministers – by closing the WILG – were “washing their hands” of responsibility for social care and handing it to local councils, which could not afford to meet their responsibilities promised under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which Davies said should be renamed the Pie in the Sky Act.

Responding to criticisms of the document, a Welsh government official said: “Our ‘Action on Disability: the Right to Independent Living’ framework is a high-level plan covering a wide range of issues in line with our national strategy, Prosperity for All.

“A number of the actions in this draft action plan relate to social care; nevertheless we are open to suggestions on how the plan could be strengthened.

“We encourage everyone to contribute to the consultation – which we launched this week – to influence our future work to support disabled people as best we can.”

Davies has contrasted the actions of the Welsh Labour government with those of the UK Labour party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has publicly supported his campaign to save the WILG, as did members of Welsh Labour at their annual conference earlier this year.

Davies is determined to persuade the Welsh government to keep the current system, which allows former ILF-recipients some security by receiving funding from three different “pots”: WILG, local authorities and their own personal contributions.

He said that this “tripartite” system had provided the support he needed that led to him being recognised with an honorary degree by Wrexham Glyndwr University for his services to disability rights.

He has also been involved with Wrexham football club, Disabled People Against Cuts, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, as well as writing a new book, and running his campaign and a blog.

He also worked with Disability Arts Cymru on a #SaveWILG exhibition of visual art and poetry earlier this year.

Davies is now waiting to hear what will happen to his support package when WILG closes.

Meeting in Parliament #SaveWILG

I am enjoying this politics lark and on October 25th I shall be attending a crucial meeting in The Houses of Parliament as we continue to fight for the rights of disabled people across the UK.

Working together to implementing the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Committee Room 4, Houses of Parliament
3.30 – 5pm Thursday 25th October 2018
Hosted by Lord Colin Low
 
 Speakers to include representatives from the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Action (Northern Ireland), Marsha de Cordova (Shadow Minister for Disabled People) and Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Work and Pensions) and others to be announced.
 
 In July 2018 the UK government co-hosted a global disability summit in London with the aim of securing international commitments to upholding the rights of Disabled people under the UNCRPD.  Meanwhile Deaf and Disabled people and our organisations remain concerned about retrogression under the UNCRPD within the UK.
 
Twelve months on from the Concluding Observations in the routine public examination of the UK under the UNCRPD, Government, equality commissions and civil society have been required to report back to the UN disability committee. This meeting will launch the alternative reports by UK Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations and be an opportunity to discuss how government, Parliamentary allies, and civil society can work together to implement the UNCRPD within the UK.
 
BSL interpretation and a palantypist will be provided. For more information or to book a place please contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk.
 
 

Pressure grows to keep disability living grant #SaveWILG

Taken from the Plaid Wrecsam blog with sincere thanks.  

Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government to maintain an essential grant for disabled people after 20% of AMs backed a statement of opinion.

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd has tabled a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly calling for the Welsh Independent Living Grant, which allows severely disabled people to continue to live independently, to be retained. The Welsh Government plans to scrap the grant next year, transferring the responsibilities over to Local Authorities.

Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, has been campaigning to keep the grant for several years, and managed to pass a motion of support for maintain the grant at this year’s Welsh Labour Spring Conference.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:

“Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant tell me that the system as it is now works well, and they fear that transferring the responsibility over to councils would compromise their independence. Maintaining their independence is paramount. Their dignity and right to independence should be respected.

“Scotland’s Government has maintained its Independent Living Grant and indeed invested in the scheme. It’s widely supported by disabled people, and it provides a national criteria instead of forcing a prescribed criteria locally that would result in a post code lottery for the most severely disabled people. This is what will happen in Wales under the proposals.

“I’m calling for each Assembly member to sign up to my Statement of Opinion, and urging as many people to contact their Assembly Member asking them to support it. So far 20% of Assembly Members have signed up. I would hope that Labour Assembly Members would support it, as it chimes with their own party policy that was only passed earlier this year following a strong grassroots campaign.”

Disability campaigner Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, gave his backing for the Statement of Opinion:

“This is a very frightening time for disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales as they are being asked to rely solely on cash-strapped local authorities to meet their daily living requirements. The Welsh Government is quite simply washing its hands of all responsibility towards this section of society.

“Care packages were originally agreed upon by the disabled individual, local authorities and a third-party social worker who was entirely independent. Under the new system, who would disabled people be able to turn to if they did not agree with the local authority? The existing tripartite system for deciding care packages MUST be maintained.

“I should also underline the fact that I am an employer who provides work for five other people. The loss of WILG could mean that my personal assistants will be losing significant amounts of work.”

The Statement of Opinion says:

This Assembly:
1. Notes the cuts suffered by local authorities over recent years, and the squeeze on social services budgets across Wales.
2. Further notes that article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states how people with disabilities should have “choices equal to others”.
3. Commends the Scottish Government on introducing a successful Independent Living Fund that is trusted and has a national criteria.
4. Believes that the Welsh Independent Living Grant should be retained as a national funding package with a national criteria, ensuring the recipients independence, along the lines of ILF Scotland.
Anybody wanting to urge their AM to sign the Statement of Opinion should ask them to support OPIN-2018-0094 The future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

SOP and signatories here: http://record.assembly.wales/StatementOfOpinion/94

Latest Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies #SaveWILG

I have just received the following letter from Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies. I have only skim read it at the moment but I can see that it is ignoring all of our fears about the end of the three tier triangular system of support and disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD.

There have been some exciting developments in this crusade to Save WILG over the last few weeks and I remain confident in our resolve. I can’t say too much more at the moment, but the campaign continues to gather strength…

***

Dear Nathan,

As promised in my letter of 28 February I am writing to provide an update on the transition period to the new support arrangements for recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

You will know a two year transition period was put in place within which WILG recipients would transfer to receiving their support from their local authority. This commenced on 1 April last year and is to conclude on 31 March 2019. During the first year of this period, local authorities were to discuss and agree with their recipients the wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve, and agree a future care package to deliver these. During the second year, authorities were to begin to provide these care packages to replace recipients’ payments under the WILG.

Clearly the first year of this is critical in terms of identifying and agreeing with recipients the outcomes they wish to achieve to continue to live independently, and agreeing a future care package to deliver this. Providing authorities with sufficient time to do this is, therefore, essential particularly given some recipients have complex needs. However this is proving difficult to achieve in all cases in the current timescale and more time needs to be devoted to this critical first part of the transition period, to ensure the most appropriate care packages for all recipients are agreed which deliver the best outcomes for recipients.

Consequently I have decided to extend the first part of the transition period so that it will now conclude on 30 September this year rather than March as originally envisaged. This is to provide local authorities and WILG recipients sufficient time to discuss and agree future care packages to make sure these are completed in an appropriate manner.

In deciding this, I have made it clear to authorities that I expect them to have completed this review part of the process for all of their recipients within this rescheduled timescale.

I expect all recipients to have an agreed future care package to deliver their wellbeing outcomes by the end of this period, i.e. 30 September this year. As a result I have no plans to reschedule the remainder of the transition period. I have, therefore, also made it clear to authorities that from now until the end of the transition period overall on 31 March next year, they should continue to put in place care packages agreed with their recipients where this is possible and not wait until this date to do so.

Following our meeting earlier this year you will know I was considering what arrangements to put place to collect qualitative data on the transition period to go alongside the quantitative data we collect from authorities. Having considered this, I have decided to commission a short questionnaire for recipients, hosted by the All Wales Forum in partnership with Disability Wales, to seek their views on the whole of the transition process. This will cover the process from initial contact by their authority to provision of their agreed care package. This is so that we have qualitative data on the transition process from the recipient’s perspective. Details of this are currently being agreed with the Forum and Disability Wales and officials will be providing more information for recipients on this survey, and how they can take part in this if they wish, once these have been finalised.

As regards progress on the transition process a number of local authorities across Wales are reporting they have completed the reviews for all, or a substantial number of, their recipients so that these will be transferring shortly to receive their future support from their authority. With these, these authorities report they have had few issues with, or complaints from, recipients as a substantial number are to receive future support similar to that they currently receive. While it will take some time to complete this for all recipients, there are no indications at present that doing this will present any more problems than would normally be the case with an assessment of care needs.

As regards Wrexham I understand it is already in the process of reviewing the future needs of around half of its 93 recipients, with around 20 or so of these already having agreed their future care package with few issues. It acknowledges this is taking time due to social worker vacancies it has had (which it has now addressed) and the fact that the majority its WILG recipients are in supported living houses (where to cater appropriately for each person’s needs it has to undertake reviews of everyone living in each house, thereby multiplying the number of reviews required and lengthening this process).

Nevertheless it has assured me it is taking a person centred approach to completing this process, with recipients their families, carers and advocates involved as appropriate, and that it will have completed reviews for all its recipients by the end of September as planned.

I understand Wrexham was in contact in February with its recipients to update them. If you wish to check the position as to when your review is scheduled, or you have concerns over this or how this will be undertaken, I would urge you to contact the council to address these.

Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM

Y Gweinidog Gofal Cymdeithasol
Minister for Children and Social Care