Welsh Government

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.

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

 

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…

***  

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…

***

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.

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

The People Must Make the Final Decision on Brexit

I am sharing the following email that I received as a Labour Party member, from our First Minister, Mark Drakeford. Throughout the email, Drakeford puts forward views that are necessary to get us out of the impossible situation that has been created by the Tories in Westminster.

***

Dear Nathan,

I know that over the past few days you will have seen many reports in the press around Brexit and our Welsh Labour Government’s view on what should happen next. And I wanted to write to you directly to explain how our position has evolved.

Since 2016, when Wales voted – narrowly – to leave the European Union, the Welsh Government has argued for a form of Brexit which would, as far as possible, protect Welsh jobs and the Welsh economy. Our Labour colleagues in Westminster have done the same – most recently in negotiations with the UK Tory Government.

However, the collapse of the talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and the current election for a new leader of the Conservative Party changes all that. The Tory leadership race is rapidly becoming a contest between harder and harder forms of Brexit – hugely increasing the very real danger of a no-deal Brexit that would be catastrophic for our nation. Recognising that, means we have to re-think how we approach Brexit in Wales. I believe the chance to do the sort of deal I have always advocated – a deal that would protect Welsh jobs and the Welsh economy – is now at an end. That is why my view, and the view of the Welsh Labour Government, is that going back to the people and asking them for their verdict is the best way forward. The final decision on Brexit must now be made by the public in a referendum. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, a Welsh Labour Government would campaign in such a vote for Wales to remain in the EU.

I am delighted that following last week’s election, Jackie Jones will sit in the European Parliament, and I know she will be a brilliant Welsh Labour MEP. But there is no hiding the fact that last week’s results were clearly deeply disappointing for our Party. Over the coming weeks and months, I want to take every opportunity to get out across Wales and hear from as many of you as possible. I know that many of you have passionate, differing, and sincerely held views, and I believe that the diversity of our membership is a strength, not a weakness. We are – and always have been – a broad church, but we are united by our belief in social justice and the firm conviction that we achieve more together than we do alone. In these turbulent and polarised times, it is more important than ever to remember that and act accordingly.

Best wishes,
Mark Drakeford
Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister

Statement from #SaveWILG Campaign at the #Right2IL Campaign launch

On April 25th, the #Right2IL Campaign was launched in Parliament. Unfortunately, I could not be there so I wrote the following which was read out by my good friend and comrade, Ellen Clifford.

Apparently, the message was well-received. I am looking forward to playing my part in the fight for the rights of disabled people to be recognised.

More about the #Right2IL campaign can be read here. 

***

“Good afternoon to everyone and apologies that I cannot be present today. As a disability activist who has spent the last 4 years campaigning for the protection of independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, I feel that it is important to contribute to the meeting. I believe that it is essential that disabled people in Wales are also represented in the creation of any independent living scheme that we campaigned for.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant was given to former ILF recipients as a temporary measure while future arrangements were discussed. In November 2016, the Welsh Government announced they would be scrapping the grant and transferring all funds to local authorities. This could not be allowed to happen and we have campaigned tirelessly and imaginatively to push the Welsh Government into making a u-turn. Independent Social Workers and extra funds have been promised by the Welsh Government to ensure former ILF recipients can remain in their local communities.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been a success in protecting the rights of former ILF recipients, the Welsh Government are not planning to extend these rights to disabled people who missed out on the ILF. Our campaign has produced a positive result for approximately 1,300 of us, but this does not mean we can forget about those who never received the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We do not believe any disabled people with high support needs should be purely at the mercy of cash strapped local authorities. 

The tripartite system that the ILF established – between recipient, local authority and independent social worker – should be something that we all receive. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the ROFA campaign and share the skills and tactics that we have built up during our successful campaign. Please do keep in touch and let me know  how the people of Wales can get involved. There may be a different legal system in Wales to contend with, but I believe that any Welsh Political Party – with the possible exception of Plaid Cymru – would welcome the opportunity to work with the UK Government to protect disabled people with high support needs.

My contact details are as follows:

Twitter: @nathanleedavies

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathanleedavies

Website: https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/ 

Many thanks for allowing me to be part of your discussion and let us hope that this is the beginning of a new campaign that will result in justice for disabled people and their families. 

Solidarity to you all. 

Nathan”

BBC Report: Wales disability support cuts: Care to be re-assessed in July #SaveWILG

Elderly man in wheelchair

Re-assessments of severely disabled people unhappy with their care packages will not begin before July.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant has ended with councils funding care for more than 1,000 people receiving it.

In February, the Welsh Government announced anyone unhappy with their new council care package would be offered independent re-assessments.

Plaid Cymru said the wait was “way too long”. The Welsh Government has been asked to respond to the criticism.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Welsh Government told BBC Wales it has set aside up to £60,000 to pay an independent organisation to do the reassessments.

It anticipates the contract will be awarded by the end of June and re-assessments will begin in July.

£2.4m per year has also been budgeted, “for planning purposes”, to cover the potential costs of any increased packages.

157 people out of 1,174 assessed by their councils by the end of last year had had their support reduced.

There have been big regional variations, with cuts most common in Wrexham, Newport and Ceredigion.

Julie Morgan

The WILG was introduced in Wales to replace the UK-wide Independent Living Fund (ILF), which was closed down by the UK government in 2015.

In a letter to ex-WILG recipients, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said their “patience” would be appreciated.

“I do not want people to be waiting for an independent assessment,” she said.

“However, it is important to organise these independent assessments properly, so that they meet the required standards.”

Plaid Cymru’s social justice spokeswoman Leanne Wood questioned whether the reassessments were necessary.

“Initially many of these people were given an award for life and going through a reassessment process is extremely stressful,” she said.

“Particularly if you have a condition that everybody knows is not going to improve, it’s only going to deteriorate.

“So putting people through those reassessments is potentially problematic but at the same time this does need to be resolved quickly.”

‘Irresponsible’

Nathan Davies, a Labour member and founder of the Save WILG campaign, said the wait was “inconvenient” but criticised the previous Welsh Labour Government, led by Carwyn Jones, which made the initial decision to transfer the responsibility to councils.

“The fact that they [the current Welsh Government] are having to do this work now is because the previous neo-liberal regime did not listen to our campaign team and disregarded the evidence that we presented.

“The fact that we are having to endure an uncomfortable few months is totally down to them and a number of irresponsible local authorities.”

You can see more on this story on the BBC Wales Live programme at 22:30 BST on Wednesday BBC One Wales, and then on BBC iPlayer

A National Independent Living Support Service #Right2IL

The following article was taken from the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website and can be read in full by clicking here. 

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, a network of  disabled people and our organisations in England, is asking for support for a bold new vision for independent living* for the future. (* The phrase ‘independent living’ is not about disabled people doing things on our own, it means having choice and control over our own lives, being included in the community and having the same chances to take part as other people.)

The social care and mental health systems are currently in crisis and as a result disabled people’s rights to an adequate standard of living, to dignity and inclusion and to equal participation in society are being taken backwards.

In its present state, the system is not fit to respond to current needs, let alone predicted greater needs in the future. Disabled people’s experiences of support are subject to a post code lottery and differ considerably depending upon impairment.

Disabled people and our organisations are calling for a better system guaranteeing consistent levels of adequate support. This will not only benefit us and our families but will strengthen wider society, save costs in other areas and produce social and economic benefits.

Our vision of a national independent living support system is set out in the position paper “Independent Living for the Future” which you can download above or below for the easy read version.

Please sign up in support using the form at the end of this page and help us reclaim disabled people’s futures by making our vision a reality. [The form is published on the DPAC website and can be found by clicking here]

NILSS-1-218x300

Download report here: NILSS_final

Sadly, I couldn’t attend Thursday’s meeting at the Houses of Parliament, but Ellen Clifford of DPAC kindly read out the following message on my behalf:

“Good afternoon to everyone and apologies that I cannot be present today. As a disability activist who has spent the last 4 years campaigning for the protection of independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, I feel that it is important to contribute to the meeting. I believe that it is essential that disabled people in Wales are also represented in the creation of any independent living scheme that we campaigned for.
 

The Welsh Independent Living Grant was given to former ILF recipients as a temporary measure while future arrangements were discussed. In November 2016, the Welsh Government announced they would be scrapping the grant and transferring all funds to local authorities. This could not be allowed to happen and we have campaigned tirelessly and imaginatively to push the Welsh Government into making a u-turn. Independent Social Workers and extra funds have been promised by the Welsh Government to ensure former ILF recipients can remain in their local communities.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been a success in protecting the rights of former ILF recipients, the Welsh Government are not planning to extend these rights to disabled people who missed out on the ILF. Our campaign has produced a positive result for approximately 1,300 of us, but this does not mean we can forget about those who never received the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We do not believe any disabled people with high support needs should be purely at the mercy of cash strapped local authorities. 

 

The tripartite system that the ILF established – between recipient, local authority and independent social worker – should be something that we all receive. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the ROFA campaign and share the skills and tactics that we have built up during our successful campaign. Please do keep in touch and let me know  how the people of Wales can get involved. There may be a different legal system in Wales to contend with, but I believe that any Welsh Political Party would welcome the opportunity to work with the UK Government to protect disabled people with high support needs.

Many thanks for allowing me to be part of your discussion and let us hope that this is the beginning of a new campaign that will result in justice for disabled people and their families. 

 
 Solidarity to you all. 
 
Nathan”