Wales

#SaveWILG: A Summary

 

 I am looking for support for my motion to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant at the Welsh Labour Conference at the weekend. A quick summary of why this is so important appears below:
  • You may be familiar with the demise of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and the transition of funds to the devolved Governments.
  • In Wales, WILG was created while the Welsh Government carried out a consultation to decide the best way forward. There were four different options on the table and disabled people and their families made it clear that their favoured option was to create an ILF for Wales. Respondents to the consultation were strongly opposed to transferring the funds entirely to Local Authorities.
  • Alas, in November 2016 the Welsh Government decided to ignore the will of the people and transferred funds to Local Authorities starting on March 31st 2018. This has now been put back until March 31st 2019.
  • The Welsh Government claim that this decision was made with the unanimous support of the WILG stakeholder group. This is simply not true as I know five members of that group who were opposed to the decision but their views were lost as they were drowned out by the Local Authorities who were represented on the stakeholder group and the Welsh Government with the injection of cash they would receive via the Revenue Support Grant. This means that the money that the Local Authorities will receive is not ring fenced.
  • In May 2015, I was told by my Social Worker that without WILG my hours of care and support would be reduced from 86.5 hours a week to just 31. I have a progressive disease of the nervous system so I need more hours of care now, not less.
I am leading a campaign to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG). Our campaign has attracted support from the likes of Ken Loach and we are working with BBC Wales Live on a future programme which is scheduled for May. I am also exchanging letters with the Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies, AM via the petitions committee at the Senedd who are very supportive of my campaign and holding the Welsh Government to task. In addition, one of the two candidates for Welsh Labour Deputy Leader, Julie Morgan AM, has pledged to launch an inquiry into why WILG is being closed. This is just a small glimpse into what has been going on in Wales. Much more can be found out by reading my blog entries at:  https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/
If you think you may be able to help us in our fight to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant then I would be happy to talk to you in greater detail about our campaign and our specific objectives.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Nathan Lee Davies
Disabled Activist and Author
https://www.facebook.com/SaveWILG/
https://twitter.com/nathanleedavies
https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/save-wilg-campaign

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.

***

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.

Postcard campaign continues… #SaveWILG

The postcard campaign continues and spreads south. Massive thanks to Lynne and Osian, Castell Carreg Cennen, Carmarthenshire, Luke Roberson, Forester. Castell Carreg Cennen, Carmarthenshire, Lynne Parry and Phillip Thompson, Disability Officers, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire CLP and Llanelli CLP respectively and Olive Potts and Jo Potts, Disability Forum, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire CLP. Love and solidarity to all. #SaveWILG 

If you want to contribute to the postcard scheme and show your solidarity with disabled people across Wales please get in touch and i will send you postcards so that you can take photographs of you and your family/friends. Alternatively, you can download a postcard using the image below.

Thanks for your support.

20476205_754085361437593_520031037508257410_n

Help Needed on Social Media #SaveWILG

I am requesting help on Social Media to get the message across to Assembly Members across Wales that there is still time to reverse the awful decision to close WILG and transfer all responsibilities for Independent Living to local authorities.

A list of AM Twitter handles can be found below along with a suggested Tweet and electronic postcards and memes that can be attached to Tweets for greater impact. Those of you who are not on Twitter can use Facebook to send messages, postcards and memes to AMs or you can email them using their addresses that can be found on this mailing list. 

It is also still not too late to show your support for the #SaveWILG postcard campaign. You can download and print postcards below or get in touch with me and I will send you a few hard copies.

Even if you only manage to contact a handful of AMs, this could make a real difference to disabled people across Wales.

Thanks for your support.

***

SUGGESTED TWEETS:

Disabled people with high care and support needs are in search of your support to maintain Independent Living for all. #SaveWILG

Wales voted Labour. Don’t copy Tory policy and damage independent living 4 disabled people #SaveWILG

This is the impact of closing the ILF in England  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-living-fund-post-closure-review #SaveWILG

Welsh Labour: Don’t copy Tories in Westminster. Protect independent living 4 disabled people #SaveWILG

These Tweets should be accompanied by some of the many postcard photographs, electronic postcards and memes.

***

David Melding @DavidMeldingAM

Lynne Neagle @lynne_neagle

Gareth Bennett AC/AM @GarethBennettAM

David Rowlands AC/AMVerified account @DavidRowlandsAM

Hefin David AC/AM @hef4caerphilly

Caroline Jones AC/AM @carolineUKIP

Dr Dai Lloyd AC/AM @DaiLloydAM

Carl Sargeant AM @Carl4AandD Michelle Brown AM @MishBrownAM

Carwyn Jones AM/ACVerified account @AMCarwyn

Joyce Watson AM @JoyceWatsonam

Nathan GillVerified account @NathanGillMEP

Neil Hamilton AC/AMVerified account @NeilUKIP

John Griffiths AM @JGriffithsLab

Vikki Howells AM @VikkiHowells

Ann Jones AM @ann_jonesam

David Rees @DavidReesAM

Neil McEvoy AM @neiljmcevoy

Ken Skates AMVerified account @KenSkatesAM

Dafydd Elis-Thomas @ElisThomasD

MickAntoniw AM @MickAntoniw1

Jayne Bryant AM @JBryantWales

Mike Hedges @MikeHedgesAM

Julie James AMVerified account @JulieJamesAM

Rebecca Evans AMVerified account @RebeccaEvansAM

Eluned Morgan @Eluned_Morgan

JaneHutt AMVerified account @JaneHutt

Rhianon Passmore @rhi4islwyn

Elin Jones @ElinCeredigion

Vaughan Gething AMVerified account @vaughangething

Mark Drakeford AMVerified account @MarkDrakeford

Mark Isherwood AMVerified account @MarkIsherwoodAM

Angela Burns @AngelaBurnsAM

Mohammad Asghar AMVerified account @MohammadAsghar

Lesley GriffithsVerified account @lesley4wrexham

Nick RamsayVerified account @NickRamsayAM

Andrew RT DaviesVerified account @AndrewRTDavies

Simon ThomasVerified account @SimonThomasAC

Huw Irranca-DaviesAMVerified account @huw4ogmore

Russell George AMVerified account @russ_george

Rhun ap IorwerthVerified account @RhunapIorwerth

Julie MorganVerified account @JulieMorganLAB

Sian Gwenllian AC/AM @siangwenfelin

Janet Finch-SaundersVerified account @JFinchSaunders

Lee Waters AMVerified account @Amanwy

Alun DaviesVerified account @AlunDaviesAM

Jeremy Miles AC/AMVerified account @Jeremy_Miles

Jenny Rathbone AMVerified account @JennyRathbone

Mark Reckless AMVerified account @MarkReckless

Dawn Bowden AM @Dawn_Bowden

Llyr Gruffydd AC/AM @LlyrGruffydd

suzy daviesVerified account @suzydaviesam

Darren Millar AMVerified account @DarrenMillarAM

Steffan LewisVerified account @steffanlewis

Adam PriceVerified account @Adamprice

Hannah Blythyn AM @hannahblythyn

Kirsty WilliamsVerified account @Kirsty_Williams

LeanneWoodVerified account @LeanneWood

Bethan Maeve AM/ACVerified account @bethanjenkins

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget there are still plenty of badges available for you to wear with pride to help to spread awareness. Simply get in touch if you would be interested in showing your support by purchasing a badge.

 

 

 

A Night with Aleida Guevara

Last night I was lucky enough to attend Denbigh Town Hall to see Aleida Guevara – daughter of Che Guevara – speaking to a packed congregation.

Her passion shone through and did not need any translation as she spoke in her mother tongue through a quietly spoken interpreter. It was a pleasure to spend the evening with so many familiar faces and comrades. I left Denbigh believing that our time, really will come…

 

Denbigh

Tuesday, 7 November 2017, 7:30pm

Che’s daughter speaks about Cuba today and the dangers of Trump

Cymru Cuba Public Meeting: All welcome.

Entry is free but to book tickets please email gales2007-compras@yahoo.co.uk If places are still available tickets will also be on the door.

7.30pm Tuesday 7 November Town Hall, Denbigh LL16 3TB

Aleida Guevara, Che’s daughter, is a doctor of medicine at a Children’s Hospital in Havana and has also worked as a physician in Angola, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. She was interviewed about the philosophy behind universal health care in Michael Moore’s film Sicko.

Aleida also helps run two homes for disabled children in Cuba and two more for refugee children with domestic problems. As a paediatrician she has also been involved in medical support for communities in areas in Cuba devastated by floods and hurricanes.

She has been an advocate for human rights and debt relief for developing nations and has participated in conferences, debates and festivals all around the world.

Aleida is an outspoken critic of the US blockade of Cuba, now in its 55th year. The blockade causes huge difficulties to the Cuban economy, depriving the Cuban people of basic necessities such as pharmaceuticals.

Attempts by Barack Obama to improve relations between Cuba and the USA are under threat from President Donald Trump who promises to ‘defeat Cuba’.

 

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

 

A ‘human catastrophe’ – New UN condemnation for UK human rights record

Disability Wales Press Release
31st August 2017
 
The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention.
 
 The highlights of the press conference held by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People at this afternoon are:
·        The Committee has made the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK.
·        The UK’s retrogression in ensuring Independent Living is a major concern. There is not adequate funding, resulting in too much institutionalisation.
·        There is a significant problem with Deaf and disabled people’s standard of living. Disabled people continue to be disadvantaged in employment, and are not adequately compensated for disability by the state.
 
The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”. Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government’s failure to implement the rights of disabled people. He also noted the government’s “lack of recognition of the findings and recommendations of the (2016) Inquiry” which found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights’.
 
Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.
 
The UK Delegation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations has issued the following joint statement:
 
“Today the UN(CRPD) Committee has, once again, condemned the UK Government’s record on Deaf and Disabled People’s human rights. They have validated the desperation, frustration and outrage experienced by Deaf and Disabled people since austerity and welfare cuts began. It is not acceptable for the UK Government to ignore the strong and united message of the disability community.
 
UK Government representatives committed during the review to rethinking the way they support Deaf and Disabled People to monitor our rights. We welcome this commitment.  However, we are clear that our involvement must be genuine and inclusive and that we cannot accept anything less than progress on delivering the human rights enshrined in the Convention, and denied us for too long.
 
DDPOs have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with following a long campaign of challenging the Government’s blatant disregard for the lives of Deaf and disabled people in the UK. The unity and solidarity demonstrated by the Committee and the UK Independent Mechanism in supporting our calls for justice continue to strengthen us.”
 
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said, “It is a relief to see that the UK Government’s appalling treatment of disabled people has been called out by the UN Committee. The Concluding Observations give a clear sense of direction for the UK and devolved Governments. We welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to a strengthened Framework for Action on Independent Living since much of the implementation of the UNCRPD is devolved to Welsh Government.
 
However, as a devolved nation, it is not possible to entirely mitigate the impact of UK austerity policies and we will continue to join forces with our sister organisations across the UK in our quest to safeguard disabled people’s human rights in Wales.”