Welsh Government

National Hate Crime Awareness Week

This morning, I received the following email from Disability Wales and I thought it was worth sharing with my readers. If anyone is suffering from disability hate crime, then they shouldn’t feel alone. There is help out there. If this article persuades anyone to take positive action, then it will have served its purpose.

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It’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week 12th – 19th October 2019.  Let’s raise awareness of and tackle Disability Hate Crime!

What is Disability Hate crime?

A disability hate crime is a criminal offence that is motivated by hostility or prejudice based upon the victim’s impairment or perceived impairment.

What type of incidents can be a disability hate incident?

Verbal and physical abuse, teasing, violence, bullying, online abuse, threatening or insulting texts and damage to property all become hate crimes when they’re motivated by prejudice or hate towards someone because they are disabled.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.  Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone considered a friend.

Mate crime

Mate crime is when someone befriends someone with the intention of taking advantage of them.  They pretend to be a friend.   Mate crime is a severely under-reported element of disability hate crime committed against people with learning difficulties, in particular.

People who commit mate crimes are often nice to people ‘their victims’ to start with but then the relationship can become insidious.  They might start to bully their victim, call them horrible names, ask for and steal money from them, physically and/or sexually abuse the person they befriend.

Take a look at the powerful videos produced by Gwent and Newport People First.  These videos are based on real experiences of mate crime.

Mate crime is NOT acceptable!  It is a crime.  If you or anyone you know is experiencing this, please report it.

Reporting a Hate Crime

If you think you have been a victim of hate crime you can call your local police force to report it on:

  • 101 (non-emergency) or
  • 999 (if it is an emergency)

If you do not feel ready to go to the police you can also contact Report Hate Crime Wales today 24/7 365 days a year on 0300 3031 982 you can email them at Hate.CrimeWales@victimsupport.org.uk  or you can report confidentially online.

Treating someone badly because they are disabled is wrong and against the law.  Please don’t suffer in silence, tell someone and report it today!

 Reporting leads to positive outcomes

A mate crime case was referred to Victim Support (VS).  The victim was a disabled person living in sheltered accommodation.  They were befriended by a neighbour who over a period of time received money from them with a promise to repay and also took money from their bank account. The total amount taken was in excess of £17,000.

When they referred to VS, the case was due to be heard in court in three months’ time. They felt “scared to death” about giving evidence in court and the incident had a huge emotional impact on them.

The VS caseworker:

  • Discussed ‘mate crime’ with them and provided emotional support over the telephone for the impact of the mate crime
  • Discussed special measures for the court date
  • Advocated with Witness Care to ensure they were kept updated regarding the trial process and that their wishes were known
  • Referred them for a pre-trial visit, which was later done
  • Advocated with Witness care to apply for taxi’s for the court day due to their alcohol dependency & low income – This was granted by the Crown Prosecution Service
  • Ensured that Witness Care updated them with the sentencing outcome

The client did not have to give evidence in court as the defendant changed their plea to guilty on the day of the trail – They were sentenced to 42 months in prison for 2 counts of fraud. Emotional support was given to the client following this and a personal alarm was provided due to their worries of potential repercussions from the husband of the offender. Safety advice was also given around this issue.

Real case study provided by Report Hate Wales, Victim Support Oct 2019

Victim Support runs the National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre for Wales which is funded by the Welsh Government. They have created a film to help raise awareness of what a hate crime is, the impact hate crimes can have, how to access support and how to report hate crimes.  Watch now: https://youtu.be/CmtnRDXGRuY

Useful reading…

Scapegoat: Why are we failing disabled people by Katherine Quarmby

“A must-read for anyone aiming to tackle disability hate crime!”

#SaveWILG Campaign Update

I have received an update from the Welsh Government, on their efforts to provide independent assessments to all WILG recipients who requested one. It read as follows:

All 14 local authorities who have former WILG recipients who have requested an independent assessment now have a data sharing agreement in place with ICS. As a result ICS now has basic data on the majority of the 50 recipients who have requested an independent assessment in order to progress these. This does not include details of previous care assessments or care plans as both ICS and us wanted their social workers to go into this process without any preconceptions of people’s care needs.

Consequently ICS is now arranging appointments for their social workers to undertake these and has already undertaken first appointments with a number of the 50 recipients across Wales. Following these ICS’ social workers will write up respective care assessments for submission to ICS’ quality control, before discussion with the relevant local authority representative and subsequently a joint discussion with the former WILG recipient concerned. On the basis of the current position ICS estimates it will have completed all assessments by the end of November. 

The reassessment that I received went very well, and was not hard work at all. I had feared that it would be much more invasive than it was. The social worker from ICS was both professional and friendly. She listened attentively to the case we made for 24/7 support, and said that she would be in touch with a decision in between three and five weeks. That was on October 1st.

It is good news to hear that ICS plan to have all the assessments complete by the end of November. This is something that I believe is very important, as the WILG recipients affected do not want another Xmas of worry and stress.

I have spent the last two Christmas periods busy on Twitter, while the rest of my family have enjoyed Xmas dinner. I could not detach myself from the fight to #SaveWILG, even during the festivities. My very way of life was on the line, and I was in no mood to join in with the celebrations while WILG recipients were struggling in such a way. Fingers crossed that this year I will be able to enjoy some Turkey, rather than the meagre meal of beans on toast that I have stubbornly eaten for the past two years in order to make a point.

If any WILG recipients, or their families/friends, still have concerns over the assessment process then please do get in touch.

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Disability News Service: Welsh government ignores social care funding crisis… in independent living action plan #SaveWILG

The following is an article written by John Pring on his excellent Disability News Service website. This can be accessed by clicking here. 

I have been put in a difficult position following the publication of the Welsh Government’s new framework on independent living – Action On Disability – The Right to Independent Living.

I have been extremely critical of this new legislation, but I want to make it very clear that this is a separate issue to my WILG campaign. I will be forever grateful to the Welsh Government for listening to campaigners and acting decisively. Our new First Minister and the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services deserve particular praise for their hard work and determination to protect a vulnerable section of society.

However, I hope both Mark Drakeford and Julie Morgan can appreciate why I  have to speak out against the new framework due to the lack of consideration of social care. I am a proud member of the Labour Party and fully support the vast majority of the party’s policies, but I reserve the right to be critical of specific programmes and will campaign to improve them.

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The Welsh government has completely ignored the social care funding crisis in a new action plan aimed at ensuring disabled people’s right to independent living.

A public consultation process with disabled people and disability organisations led to “multiple calls” for increased social care funding.

But the final version of the Labour government’s framework and action plan on the right to independent living – which includes 55 actions – says nothing about the funding crisis or the need for more spending on adult social care.

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

In discussing the engagement process, which took place in 2017, with further engagement late last year on a draft version of the framework, the document says: “We heard that cuts to social care provision have led to lower allocations for Direct Payments which means disabled adults and young people are becoming increasingly isolated and impact to their well-being compromised.”

It also admits that there were “multiple calls for increased funding for health and social care” during that process.

But despite those calls, not one of the 55 actions in the plan mentions social care funding, or the need to address the cuts.

Instead, the action plan details wider measures around independent living, including: barriers to employment; recruitment of disabled apprentices; a review of funding for housing adaptations; collecting evidence on disability poverty; and improving access to health services.

It also includes a planned review of the disabled students’ allowance system; a pledge to improve understanding of the social model of disability across the Welsh government; and action on access to public transport.

There is also a pledge to introduce a scheme in Wales to provide financial support for the extra costs of disabled people seeking election to local councils, to match schemes in Scotland and England.

Nathan Lee Davies, a leading disabled campaigner who has helped secure concessions from the Welsh government on the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), said the omission was “bemusing” and appeared to be a “major step backwards”.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government refused to comment on the failure to mention cuts to social care funding in the action plan.

But Jane Hutt, the Welsh government’s deputy minister and chief whip, who has responsibility for equality issues, said in announcing the new framework that “supporting people to live their lives in the way they choose is the right thing to do”.

She said the framework sets out how the government was fulfilling its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

But the failure of the action plan to suggest any measures to address the funding crisis and cuts to support suggests the Welsh government could be in breach of the convention’s article 19.

Article 19 says that governments signed up to the convention should take “effective and appropriate measures” to enable disabled people to live in the community with “full inclusion and participation”.

Despite this omission, the framework pledges to “work for continuous improvement in how Wales fulfils its obligations with regard to [UNCRPD] and the Rights of the Child”.

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

WILG closed on 31 March 2018, when the £27 million a year funding provided by the UK government to maintain support to former ILF recipients transferred to local authorities in Wales.

Because of the WILG closure, Welsh local authorities are now solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients.

More than 1,200 former ILF recipients will now have their needs met through council funding, while 50 of them have requested an independent assessment of their new support package, a process being funded by the Welsh government following a campaign led by Davies over concerns about post-WILG support.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “The Welsh Independent Living Grant was introduced as an interim measure to support people who received payments from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund which closed in 2015.

“Our new framework focuses on the future of independent living in Wales, and what Welsh government can do to support disabled people going forward.”

Davies said: “On the face of it the new framework that has been introduced by the Welsh government, following a lengthy consultation process, is as bemusing as it was when [the draft version] was originally launched last year.

“It seems as if I wasted my breath at two consultation days as many of the failings of the framework that I highlighted have failed to be addressed in a [document] that does not seem to address the needs of disabled people with high support needs.

“Social care does not seem to be addressed at all. This is an absolutely bizarre situation when discussing a framework supposedly designed to promote independent living for disabled people.

“Not one of the 55 actions in the action plan mentioned social care funding, which is extremely worrying.”

He added: “After achieving success with the #SaveWILG Campaign – where former ILF recipients have been offered the opportunity of an independent assessment if they disagreed with the decision of the local authority, all funded by the Welsh government – it was hoped that this would signal a change in attitude going forward.

“The dynamic brand of 21st century socialism introduced by first minister Mark Drakeford has delivered positive change that deserves to be recognised.”

But he said the new framework and action plan “seems like a major step backwards”.

He added: “It just seems that the socialist values that the Welsh government demonstrated with their reaction to the WILG campaign have not been utilised in the new framework.

“It does not sit well with me to criticise this new [document], but the fact that it seems to blatantly flaunt the UNCRPD article 19 is a major cause for concern.

“It would be very easy for me to ignore this as WILG recipients have now been protected, but as a disabled activist I remain vigilant to the needs of my disabled brothers and sisters across Wales.

“All disabled people with high support needs should be able to access adequate social care and I will not rest until justice prevails for those in need.”

Rhian Davies, chief executive of Disability Wales (DW), who led the national steering group on the framework, welcomed its publication, particularly “the renewed commitment to implementation of the [UNCRPD] and consideration of options to incorporate this and other UN treaties in Welsh law together with a stronger focus on the social model of disability and proposals to tackle the disability employment gap and support disabled people to take up positions in public life.”

But she added: “Some aspects of the action plan are stronger and more developed than others, often in those areas where disabled people have been closely involved in informing and influencing policy.

“With regard to social care, there appear to be relatively few initiatives cited in the action plan compared with other policy areas.

“Key issues raised during the consultation are omitted, including low take-up of direct payments, provision of advocacy services, WILG developments and the impact of austerity on social care as a whole.

“We understand that the action plan is a work in progress so DW will continue to press for these issues to be addressed, including through Welsh government’s Disability Equality Forum which plays a vital role in monitoring implementation of the framework.”

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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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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Tinder Surprise

I have recently decided to join the herd of sheep and become a member of Tinder. I don’t know where this will lead, or if I will ever get someone swiping right on my profile, but we live in hope. I guess that you have to be part of the game if you ever want to end up victorious.

The fact that I have led a campaign against the Welsh Government and seen this through to the glorious end, has been really good for my confidence. I now have a secure sense of self-worth, but I am the most popular lonely person that I know. Time to do something about this I think.

For years, I have been a member of dating website Plenty of Fish. This has mainly been a waste of time, but I have decided to copy my dating profile into this blog. This shows my open nature and if it attracts a random surfer then all the better. You never know.

Now excuse me while I try to capture the flying pigs that are perched on my garden fence…

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I am a 42 year old writer who thinks life is too short and tries to live each day to the full. I have no patience for time-wasters. I am an extremely loyal person.

I have a BA (hons) in American Studies from the University of Nottingham. I also attended the University of Illinois for a six month exchange period. In 2017, I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Glyndwr University for my work on disability rights.

I am a published Author and Activist with a great sense of humour.

I have a disability, but that does not define who I am. I am a very out going and confident person who loves to socialise in my spare time. I’d like to think of myself as a gentlemen with a kind heart who is just wanting to find that someone special.

I enjoy all sorts of music from Beethoven to Oasis including Radiohead, Stereophonics, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Frank Sinatra, The Kinks, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Zutons, Cerys Matthews.

I am looking for someone to share fun and happiness with – no tight definition just a considerate person who agrees that life’s too short.

Written Statement by Julie Morgan AM #SaveWILG

I have just received this Written Statement by Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services. It is an update on the current situation regarding the Independent Care Assessments that the #SaveWILG Campaign insisted upon.

This is another positive step forward and it is encouraging that the end is now in sight…

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TITLE: Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) – Update on Independent Care Assessments

DATE: 18 July 2019

BY: Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

In February I announced a change of approach in the way that people who used to receive payments under the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) were in future to access their support from their local authority’s social services. This is an update on the arrangements I am introducing.

It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes to the way their care and support is arranged and provided. It was for this reason that I decided that those people who used to receive payments under the WILG should have the opportunity of an independent care and support assessment if they are unhappy with the outcome of their local authority care and support assessment. Those assessments are being undertaken to agree with people the wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve to live independently and to agree how these would be met.

While the majority of people who used to receive WILG payments are content with the care and support they are now receiving, where people are unhappy with the outcome of care assessment the ability to have an independent care assessment would provide for a second opinion. It also restores for them the tripartite decision making arrangement that existed under the Independent Living Fund (ILF) of recipient, independent ILF social worker and local authority social worker. This was something that the “#Save the WILG campaign” was very keen to have restored.

I am pleased to report that we have made good progress in putting in place the arrangements for these independent care assessments. I wrote in April to all former WILG recipients informing them of their ability to have an independent care assessment and explained my reasons for providing this opportunity. If people wanted an independent assessment, I asked them to contact their local authority by 14 June to request this, so we could gauge the level of interest. By that date 55 requests had been made across 14 local authorities. This is out of approaching 1,400 people in Wales who received payments from the WILG. This would seem to confirm our understanding that the vast majority of former WILG recipients are content with the outcome of the care assessment they had and the subsequent care and support they are receiving. However, it does also confirm that I was right to introduce this change of approach

for what is a significant number of people who have concerns about the outcome of their care assessment.

We have in addition completed a procurement exercise to secure an organisation to recruit and manage the independent social workers required to undertake these assessments. These social workers will be suitability qualified and experienced to perform this task, being registered as such on the relevant register maintained by Social Care Wales. They would consequently be well versed in the ethos and requirements of our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the regulations and code of practice we have made under this in relation to care assessments and meeting care needs. They would not, however, be employed by a local authority in Wales so as to maintain their independence.

Following evaluation of the bids received for this contract, ICS Assessment Services Ltd. has now been appointed to organise and undertake the independent care and support assessments requested. ICS has significant experience in both social care and undertaking assessments, having worked previously with a range of local authorities across Wales and England. Officials have met with representatives of ICS, the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru and the Welsh Local Government Association, to agree the process that will be followed to complete the independent assessments and to work through the practicalities associated with this. This is well advanced so that the arrangements to begin to undertake ICS assessments should be in place by the end of this month. I will be writing shortly to those former WILG recipients who have requested an independent care and support assessment be update them in more detail on this and to confirm what they need to do to pursue their assessment.

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 wellbeing outcomes.

I appreciate that establishing these arrangements has taken some time. However, it is imperative that we put in place properly considered arrangements. The “#Save the WILG Campaign” has been supportive of the approach I am taking, as we share a common interest in seeing changes implemented properly.

I will update Members as further progress is made.

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