WCBC

Emergency on Planet Earth #12

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society. 

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Friday 17th April

Today, I have received a letter from Wrexham County Borough Council, offering Covid-19 testing for all personal assistants in the county, who are employed via Direct Payments. I have provided WCBC with the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of my staff and we will see how things progress.

This is a tremendously difficult time for everyone. In the past, I have been extremely critical of WCBC Adult Social Care, but I must give credit where it is due and say that I have been very impressed by the department’s response to the Coronavirus crisis. I believe there has been a change in personnel, and it is encouraging to see that vulnerable members of society are receiving the appropriate support under this new regime.

I look forward to a more positive relationship with WCBC in the future.

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I am fortunate enough to live in a bungalow with an accessible and attractive garden, attached to my property. I often take it for granted, and during the long winter periods I am guilty of neglecting it. The weather this week has allowed me to spend time in my garden, tidy it up and make the most of some much – needed fresh air.

I have some large blossom trees in my back garden. which are great when they are in blossom: but very annoying when the blossom falls to the ground after a week or two at the most, to cause a white blanket of petals that need sweeping up. I shouldn’t moan, as the fortnight of glorious bloom more than makes up for the mess it leaves.

 

I should also introduce the latest garden gnome of my collection who arrived via mail order this afternoon. I am not sure what to call him. Maybe something like Potty to celebrate the heritage of Stoke City FC, his parent club.

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WATCH: HANCOCK BOASTS TWICE OF ‘SPARE’ NHS CAPACITY AND SAYS EVERYONE GETS TREATMENT – AS HALF OF CV DEATHS HAPPEN IN CARE HOMES  
‘A National Scandal’ A Timeline of the UK Government’s Woeful Response TO THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS 
THE WHO’S 6 REASONS WHY THE UK SHOULD NOT EVEN BE CONSIDERING ‘EXIT STRATEGY
EXCL: WATCH PAIR ACCUSED IN LEAKED REPORT BOAST OF COMMITMENT TO LABOUR AND LABOUR GOVT – AT LEAVING ‘DO’
WATCH: GOVT ADVISER LETS SLIP DURING CORONAVIRUS PRESS BRIEFING THAT TORY POLICIES LEAD TO DEATHS

Emergency on Planet Earth #1

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society.

Wednesday 25th March 

This is obviously a very worrying time for us all. How on earth are the British public supposed to survive on a basic rationing of their favourite soap-operas?

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If the worst happens, and I start to have symptoms of coronavirus, one of the first things that I will do is record a video-diary to chart the progress of my illness. I believe this is the socially-responsible thing to do, and I am surprised that others haven’t done so already, save from one or two in the establishment. #justsaying

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VIDEO: JOHNSON TOOK 11 DAYS FROM ‘GATHERINGS HAVE LITTLE EFFECT’ TO THEY MUST BE STOPPED TO BLOCK CV – HOW MANY LIVES HAS HE COST? 

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I am enjoying the work of Johnathan Pie throughout this coronavirus crisis. Two exceptional pieces of work from the roving reporter can be found by clicking here and here.

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This is the wrong time for anyone to be sexually frustrated. Mind you, is there ever a right time?

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I have contacted WCBC, to try to get some PPE for my staff. Apparently, their supplies are extremely limited. Subsequently, I asked them to ensure those with symptoms were provided with PPE as a matter of urgency. I will only need such equipment if I fall foul of this virus myself, so at the moment I am not a priority. If only the rest of society thought in such a selfless and socialist manner…

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I am enjoying trying to compile a music listography at the moment. It was a birthday gift from my sister, and I have bought hundreds of music stickers to decorate the book.

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From Wikipedia:

Jamiroquai (/əˈmɪrəkw/ (About this soundlisten)) are an English funk and acid jazz band from London, formed in 1992. Fronted by singer-songwriter Jay Kay, the band were a prominent component of the London-based funk/jazz movement of the 1990s. Their sound draws from black music of the 1970s, and their lyrics and visual concepts occasionally deal with social and environmental idealism. They also drew from rockelectronica and Latin music, and on stage perform with several musicians in the band playing live. Over the years, Kay has consistently remained as the leader through several line-up changes.

The band débuted with “When You Gonna Learn” under Acid Jazz records, which led to Kay signing a record deal with Sony Soho2. While under this label, the group released a string of million-selling albums containing singles that have reached various charts worldwide, including the 1998 single “Deeper Underground“, which topped in the UK, while having moderate success in the US within the Dance charts. All eight of the band’s albums have entered the UK top 10. Three of them, Emergency on Planet Earth (1993), Synkronized (1999), A Funk Odyssey (2001), along with their greatest hits compilation, charted at number 1.

Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide as of 2017. Their third album Travelling Without Moving (1996), received a Guinness World Record for the best-selling funk album in history. The music video for the album’s lead single, “Virtual Insanity“, was named Video of the Year at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The group has won an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors, as well as one Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, and two Billboard Music Awards. They have also received sixteen Brit Award nominations.

The Human Right To Dignity

The following article dates from Friday, 15 April 2011 and is taken from The Broken Of Britain blog. This was a blog written by the late Dr Rhydian Fon James and his words are as relevant today as they were nine years ago.

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To read a biography about Rhydian, please click the following link. I would recommend reading all about this prolific inspirational who achieved so much before tragically passing in January 2016 at the age of just 31. Like me, Rhydian lived with Friedreich’s Ataxia. 

It is encouraging that the social care landscape has changed for the better in Wales since this article was published, as disabled people are now protected by the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act of 2014. In addition, the Welsh Government have made a commitment to the Codes of Practice to Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

I have now received my ‘independent reassessment’ from ICS and WCBC and am working behind the scenes to sort out an appropriate care package. I do not want to say too much at this stage as I need to concentrate and stay focused on the negotiations ahead.

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The Human Right To Dignity

This week was meant to be a quiet one, with Parliament in recess; no pressing issues on the news agenda; no MPs to brief. Meant to be. It hasn’t quite worked out this way, and we’ve all been busy preparing the continued campaign. This has meant that I haven’t had a chance to write about an interesting court case that’s been on my mind for the last couple of weeks.

Last week the Supreme Court heard an appeal case with huge implications for disabled people who receive packages of support. The court heard the appeal of Elaine McDonald, whose care package was cut by Kensington and Chelsea council even though it had assessed her as needing that support. McDonald became disabled following a stroke in 1999 and later broke a hip in a night-time fall. She had been provided with a weekly package of 22.5 hours of daytime support and another 10 hours of care seven nights a week.

A needs assessment by the council found night-time care was essential to provide supervision to prevent her falling while using the commode at night, due to a bladder condition. But in 2008 the council said it planned to cut her care package, and said she could be given incontinence pads instead of an overnight care worker, even though she is not incontinent. In November, the Court of Appeal ruled that the council had not breached care laws, McDonald’s human rights or the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by cutting her support.

The Supreme Court confirmed three weeks ago that it had granted her leave to appeal. McDonald’s case is being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which said in November that it feared other councils would use the judgment to “reduce community care and services for disabled people”. The Supreme Court’s decision will not be handed down for a few weeks yet, but it will be massively important for anyone who gets a care package from their local council.

This is because the Court of Appeal had found that a council could simply review a service-user’s care needs and then reduce their support, without needing to conduct a new assessment. The precedent set by this case would affect all service users. At the moment, if the council want to cut a person’s care package, they must show that their needs have changed and that they are thus entitled to fewer hours.

As service users will know, councils have been anxious to cut costs in recent years. This has led to a great deal of pressure to cut care packages, and the near-impossibility of new care packages being offered, but the need to re-assess has slowed the austerity zeal. This is because, regardless of whether they wish to cut, councils must show that the service user’s needs have lessened prior to cutting, and a council cannot be considered to have conducted a lawful assessment simply by reviewing a disabled person’s care package.

If the Supreme Court were to uphold the Court of Appeal’s decision, it would give councils free reign over decisions to cut care packages. It would also mean that it would be more difficult to argue that the refusal to provide care was a breach of her human rights to dignity and to a private and family life.

You might think that forcing a disabled person to, effectively, wet themselves at night when they are not incontinent is humiliating and degrading. But when councils are hunting for possible cuts, it may not be illegal for councils to cut care packages and force just that outcome.

Birthday Musings… #SaveWILG

Many thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes – it means a lot and is much appreciated.

I can’t believe twelve months have passed so quickly. I am proud to have published Dancing on Thin Ice – a selection of Tanka and Haiku poems in the last year. It was a year that began with a visit from Julie Morgan AM, who works as the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Government. She attended my house to inform #SaveWILG campaigners that she had decided to give those who were unhappy with local authority assessments, the chance to have an independent assessment with extra funds provided by the Welsh Government to pay for any extra support needed.

This seemed like a victory for #SaveWILG campaigners. Indeed, the support given by the Welsh Government has been encouraging and comforting. They appointed ICS to undertake the independent assessments and the vast majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo almost six months later. This is not due to any failing by the Welsh Government or ICS, but local authorities are still keeping us waiting, as they rubber-stamp the independent assessments.

I am really not knowing which way to turn at the moment. Life remains very insecure until I find out what the reassessment says about what support I can expect in the future. I am subsequently unable to decide where to put my energies. Do I write a new book, create some new poems or take a well deserved holiday before deciding on my next venture? I can’t make a decision on this until I know how much my independent assessment has been coloured by their meetings with WCBC.

I was told last week, that I could expect to hear back from Adult Social Care at the beginning of this week. At close of play today (Wednesday), I have still not heard anything. I believe a verdict is imminent, as I know a decision has already been made, but being kept in the dark about this is seriously damaging my physical and mental health.

The anxiety all this has caused me and other WILG recipients, is appalling. We should all be claiming compensation for the way we have had to wait, but I am sure we all agree that we just want it over and done with – as long as we end up with the support we need, to live on a level playing field with the rest of society.

Once again, many thanks for my birthday wishes and I hope that by this time next year, I am looking forward to the future with some degree of certainty.

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#SaveWILG Campaign Relaunched

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As many of my regular readers will know, I have spent the last 5 years campaigning to protect independent living for disabled with high support needs across Wales. In February 2019, we made a break through and the Welsh Government agreed to offer independent assessments to all recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant who did not agree with the decisions made by their Local Authority.

Since February, the Welsh Government have pulled out all the stops to make sure that WILG recipients have been assessed properly. They recruited the assessment company, ICS, to carry out the much needed reassessments and the majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019. WILG recipients were looking forward to resolving this issue before Xmas 2019, so that they could look forward to the future some degree of certainty.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo land and are unable to make plans for the long term future due to the fact that Local Authorities are dragging their feet and refusing to sign off the assessments made by ICS.

The fact that LAs are involved in this process is a contentious one as these are supposed to be independent assessments.The context is that these are being undertaken by ICS without its social worker having sight of any previous care assessments undertaken. This is as ICS did not want its social workers unduly influenced by what a local authority had undertaken or produced previously. Consequently, at the point ICS has concluded and quality assured its assessment on a person it does not know how the outcome of this compares to that which the person’s local authority has undertaken previously. In addition, a local authority may have some key information about a person or their care which may be relevant if ICS had known this.

This seems fair enough and WILG recipients have nothing to hide so would welcome LA involvement. If only it were that easy. I have had no reply to countless emails sent to WCBC this calendar year even though it is in the best interest of WCBC and myself to get this situation sorted once and for all. I must make it clear that I am very thankful to WCBC for agreeing to fund 24/7 support for myself while we await the outcome of the assessment. I appreciate this, but would still like to secure a long term plan that I know will see me through what is left of my life. Surely, a bit of security is not too much to ask while I continue to fight a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system…

The stress and anxiety that all this indecision and uncertainty is causing, recently forced me to spend a period of time in hospital with a nasty chest infection. I am slowly getting back on my feet, but this whole episode has just renewed my determination to get this this whole sorry mess sorted out once and for all.

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The Leader: Opponents of disabled living scheme in Wrexham criticised for “distressing” comments as plans are approved

The following is an article from the Leader newspaper that was written by local democracy reporter Liam Randall (@LiamRandallLDR). The original article can be read here.

It is the first story of real concern that has been published since the people of Wrexham elected a Conservative MP. Her comments, that can be read in the article below, are a clear warning sign of the hostility that disabled people in the area are likely to face while she is in office.

Stuck with a Conservative/Independent run council and a Tory MP is the stuff of nightmares. Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant have been protected by the Welsh Government, but are still being made to wait on the results of their independent assessments by a disorganised WCBC. Previously, I would have approached Ian Lucas for his support as my MP. I am not about to waste my breath on asking the current incumbent for any assistance.

The people of Wrexham have a chance to redeem themselves next year in the local elections – lets hope common sense wins the day…

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First Choice Housing has entered proposals to convert a family home on Ffordd Glyn in Wrexham into supported living accommodation. Source: First Choice Housing and North Wales Newspapers

OPPONENTS who fought plans to create new accommodation for disabled people in Wrexham have been criticised for making “distressing” comments.

Councillors met to discuss proposals to convert a family home on Ffordd Glyn in Erddig into four specialist apartments to help individuals live independently.

A total of 143 objections were submitted to the local authority ahead of the planning committee meeting amid concerns from neighbours about traffic and parking.

Issues were also raised about the potential background of tenants and the impact on crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

A Decade of Growth…

The annoyingly nameless decade that is rapidly drawing to a close has been a time of desperate struggle for many sick and disabled people living, or trying to, in these bleak times of austerity.

The Conservative – Lib Dem coalition was unleashed on the great British public back in May 2010. They immediately announced that they would be making severe cuts to the benefits system, and public services in order to balance the books. This political choice would target the poor and vulnerable, as they were held responsible for the global financial crash.

I don’t have the time to go through the last decade month by month, but suffice to say that these austere policies set the mood for the entire decade. I remember watching the TV news with a feeling of dread, as I knew what would follow would damage our society in ways that we hadn’t even dreamt of.

I had just escaped from an unhappy marriage, and had moved in to my new bachelor pad where I was to employ a team of personal assistants to help me to live independently. Unfortunately, I was in and out of hospital during 2010, as I suffered a nasty bout of pneumonia as well as having three operations to remove kidney stones.

This wasn’t going to be an easy decade, that much was obvious. I had a decision to make – do I give in and accept my position as a worthless member of society, or do I stand up for myself and fight back against the establishment? – I decided on the latter option…

I was forced in to politics as an activist, by my repressors and they have created a monster that will not rest until social justice is served to each and every one of us. It all began when the coalition government introduced the bedroom tax, and WCBC targeted me as someone who should be paying for having more than one bedroom. I wasn’t standing for that, and decided to make a piece of art in protest, that appeared in the Daily Mirror and had the desired impact. Combining art and activism was something I would continue to do with success throughout the decade.

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One of 20 postcards created for the Postcards from the Edges initiative. 

Fortunately, I seem to have blossomed with my back against the wall. This is particularly evident through the success of the #SaveWILG campaign, through which I have made numerous friends, enjoyed trips to Cardiff and Westminster and built political connections on a cross-party basis. We have held an art exhibition to promote the campaign and even had a awareness day in Wrexham, that saw musicians, poets and comedians show their solidarity. The postcard campaign that we ran, also saw the campaign gather support from acclaimed film director Ken Loach, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and even Jeremy Corbyn.

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Jeremy Corbyn meets Nathan Lee Davies at the Welsh Labour Conference in April 2018. 

There is still some work to be done to finalise everything with regard to independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, but sincere thanks must go to everyone who has helped make this campaign a success.

The fact that I have also managed to publish two books and receive an Honorary Fellowship from Glyndwr University within this period, is something that I am very proud of. It seems that I can be productive with the right levels of support. It also helps not having to put up with a significant other and her three noisy children. Married life is just not something I am cut out for. Of course, I get lonely at times, but I do not think that a conventional relationship is the answer for me. The need to remain focused is more important at this moment in time.  I wrote a blog about my personal situation earlier this year. You can read it by clicking here. 

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Receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Glyndwr University.

Whilst enjoying the company of three great friends at the pub yesterday, I was comparing my situation with the one I found myself in at the dawn of the previous decade. There is no doubt that the work I have done over the past ten years has put me in a stronger position for the difficult years ahead. Let no one be in any doubt that the Johnson regime will lead to considerable difficulties for many of us, but it is no good just moaning and worrying about it all. The time to act is now, and we all have a part to play in creating a society that works for the many, not the few.

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Good friends are hard to find, but I have been extremely fortunate. 

I have a few exciting projects lined up for 2020 and beyond, such as developing my poetry, working on my third book and creating art exhibitions to try to reach the politically confused.

Whatever I end up doing, it is sure to be a bumpy ride. Buckle up…

The Final Furlong #SaveWILG

I am up to my neck in negotiations with my local authority over emergency payments for my depleted Direct Payments account. It has taken a beating over the past six months, as I have been using it to fund the 24/7 support that I so desperately need. I had saved quite a sum to be used in such a situation – it was always going to happen, due to the fact that I live with a progressive disability and had not been fully reassessed since 2010.

I am pleased to report that, having met with the Head of Adult Social Care, WCBC have agreed to make the relevant payments to ensure that I can continue to receive the support I need, at least until the end of my forthcoming WILG reassessment.

There is one thing that I would like to make clear to WCBC and all local authorities. One of the meetings I recently had with WCBC, through up the question of where the additional funds that I am now in desperate need of, would come from? I was shocked and disappointed that WCBC and a number of other local authorities, do not seem to grasp the fact that the #SaveWILG campaign that I led, resulted in the Welsh Government agreeing to fund any extra costs incurred. This was clearly outlined in a written statement on the future of WILG payments, made by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan on the 18th of July:

I would remind Members that the cost of these independent care assessments, and any additional support for people that might be identified from them, will be met by the Welsh Government. This is so that there can be no question of changes being made to people’s care and support as a cost cutting measure. The under-pinning principle of my approach is to ensure that outcomes reached are consistent with supporting people’s agreed well-being outcomes.

It is important that all local authorities realise that Ministers have agreed to fund any increased care costs that may arise from the outcome of an independent assessment.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been extremely critical of local authorities in Wales over the past four years when dealing with WILG recipients, we have actually assisted cash-strapped councils by reducing the amount they are expected to pay to support disabled people with high support needs across Wales.

WILG recipients and their supporters need to remember this fact, and hammer it home when confronted by adult social care professionals who do not keep up with the news, or realise just what an impact the #SaveWILG campaign has had. The Welsh Government has actually done something pretty special and deserve all the credit in the world. They have listened to our fears, read the evidence we collected and acted decisively. Sadly, there is little room for any positive news in the media at the moment, as we are all obsessed with the actions of a Conservative Muppet and the mess he is making of the BREXIT debacle.

All we need to do now, is remind all local authorities of the changes that have been introduced…

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Mile End #SaveWILG

I must begin by apologising for not updating my followers for a few weeks. I have been in battle – mode against my local authority who seem determined not to increase my package of social care, unless I undertake a health assessment that everyone can clearly see I don’t need. This has caused several sleepless nights, panic attacks, depression and exhaustion. I simply want to enjoy what is left of my life, but I am not being allowed to by the Council who preside over the town in which I was born, and have lived most of my life.

I have to be careful what I say, as there is plenty going on behind the scenes. I do not want to upset any of the staff who are employed by Wrexham CBC, and are merely following orders from above.

As I write, I am full of anxiety and have never felt so alone, even though I am surrounded by an army of supporters who are always on hand to steer me in the right direction. Unfortunately, these supporters cannot be with me around the clock and I am forced to spend frustrating hours on my own. I am full of energy and ideas, but this is agony as I need social support to communicate, wash, dress, eat, drink and do everything that most people take for granted.

There are a few ideas that I have come up with that I will be sharing over the next week or two, when the time is right. Those who know me, will be confident in the knowledge that I won’t be manipulated or threatened by anyone. For the time being, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am definitely still in the game and attempting to secure justice for myself and other disabled people with high support needs in Wales.

Incompetence #SaveWILG

Even though events in February suggested that we had been successful in our attempts to #SaveWILG, I am still struggling to live a comfortable, independent life.

The problem is that Wrexham County Borough Council are simply incompetent, and failing in their duty of care towards me. This has recently been highlighted by the fact that I have run out of money in my Direct Payments/WILG account.

This is hardly surprising as I have been forced to use the funding I receive for 86.5 hours of support per week on 24/7 support instead. This is due to the fact that I live with a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system. I have always known that this condition will deteriorate, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that I am need of extra support. This is not something that I am choosing, rather something that I categorically need.

I struggled to pay my staff their well-deserved wages earlier this month. This was due to a £2,200 bill from HMRC, which was unexpected and was a bombshell to my financial affairs that I could not recover from. WCBC agreed to pay an emergency payment, but this did not arrive in my account until eight days later. In the meantime, I had to borrow money from family members to ensure that my staff were paid on time. I do not like having to borrow money, but I had no option. This was both embarrassing and stressful.

I have since been told that senior  management have refused to sanction any further emergency payments, which is obviously very stressful for my staff and myself. I am supposed to be having an independent reassessment soon. This cannot come quickly enough, and is really a matter of urgency as I do not have any confidence that WCBC will resolve this issue.

I informed WCBC back in October/November 2018 that my condition had deteriorated to such an extent that I would need 24/7 support. This was met with scoffing and I was told that no one in Wrexham receives such a care package. This is why I have not been in contact with anyone from WCBC who have failed to provide me with the support that I need to live independently. It is clear that WCBC have failed in their duty of care to myself, and in all probability, many others.

I feel that WCBC have put me under physical and mental stress by denying me the freedom to live the life that I choose. If I did not need support 24/7 I would not ask for it.

I think it likely that the threatened refusal to make a second emergency payment breaks the law. The Code for Part 4 does not limit emergency payments to a single occasion: Para 158 states very plainly that local authorities must be prepared to make emergency payments when they are needed. Welsh Government civil servants have alluded to this in emails when I have been warned that I  “need to watch closely and alert the council if this situation looks like it is to occur again.” I read this to mean that I need for support is paramount and that if it looks like I will run out of funds again I should ask the authority who must ensure that I do not run out of money.

While this reassessment  process takes its time, I wonder what are they going to do to provide the basic level of care needed with regard to the next payment day (September 2nd)? WHO exactly refused the emergency payment and on what grounds? What do they think the consequence of that must be?

I have done everything in my power to show that I am not misusing Direct Payments. I am transparent in everything that I do. Pity the same can’t be said of senior management at WCBC, who are merely proving that local authorities cannot be trusted to provide social care, as #SaveWILG campaigners have been highlighting for four years.

I believe my situation will be sorted out by independent social workers, as I have little confidence in WCBC. I will keep readers up to date with this diabolical situation in the hope that it will provide guidelines to other WILG recipients.

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