Where there’s a WILG there’s a way

Open Letter to Welsh CLPs #SaveWILG


I am writing to you as a Labour Party member, Unite activist and disability rights campaigner to call on your support as we work together to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

#SaveWILG OUTLINED

WAG is devolving the funds and responsibility for former Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipients to 22 local authorities.  Many of these authorities are not Labour controlled, many are already strapped for cash and the money that is due to be transferred hasn’t been ringfenced for the benefit of current WILG recipients…

Under the ILF, recipients received an independent third person who was involved in negotiating care packages along with the Local Authority.  This was a great source of support to people with high care and support needs and is something that needs to be re-established.  Sole reliance on local authorities is dangerous and lessons should be learned from England where funds have been distributed to local authorities since 2015 with disastrous effects.

The money from the WAG is a clear (transparent) amount specific to WILG recipients. However, it is currently planned for this money to be paid to local authorities under the Revenue Support Act and could therefore be subsumed into other projects while local authorities try to cut back on our specific care package provision.

Why should former WILG recipients have to fight for the care package they need, not simply to exist, but to be able to live a decent and fulfilled life?  This is an impossible task for the vast majority of recipients who live with conditions such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy or Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The families of former WILG recipients will inevitably suffer as they will find themselves trying to fill the gaps in care provision not covered in the new “reduced” care package provided by the local authority.

Our care package is essential to our existence, it is not a privilege: Why would a civilised society put us through this misery? It is a human right to be treated fairly and equally with everyone else, so why are we being squeezed into this disadvantageous position by our own Labour government. They have got this wrong, but there is still time for them to revisit this decision and retain the WILG…

Motion 4 to save WILG was overwhelmingly passed at the Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno during April 2018, but Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies has since stated that he would not rethink the policy “in its entirety”. This has transformed the #SaveWILG campaign from a quest to protect independent living for vulnerable individuals to exactly that plus a fight to preserve Party Democracy. The will of our members MUST be listened to.

The Welsh Government tried to defend their actions by claiming they had acted in accordance to the instructions of a stakeholder group. I have spoken to several members of the advisory group who DID oppose LA provision. Surely, this calls into question the basis for the Minister’s decision. There’s been a total lack of imagination on the part of the Welsh Government in terms of creating an independent living plan that all local authorities must buy into. This would be a guarantee of ensuring equity across Wales

We are constantly being told that it is unfair that only a certain percentage of the population receive WILG and that this creates a two-tier system throughout Wales. I would suggest that the WAG should look to the fine example of ILF Scotland and roll out such a system to all disabled people with high care and support needs in Wales.

This motion has cross-party support with Plaid Cymru, and even UKIP & Conservative AMs lending support and fighting against this proposal. Welsh Deputy Leader candidate Julie Morgan AM also supports the campaign and has called for an “urgent enquiry” re scrapping WILG. We have had support from English MPs like Chris Williamson, many AMs, officials etc. The film director Ken Loach (pictured below) also supports the campaign, as do many other high-profile cultural figures like the poet & musician Atilla The Stockbroker, comedian & campaigner Mark Thomas, esteemed Welsh footballers like Joey Jones, Mickey Thomas, Wayne Phillips and so many more people from all sorts of backgrounds.

Support disabled people and their families 

WILG – Because we’re worth it

#SaveWILG

HOW YOU CAN HELP?

We are urging our comrades to get involved in the important campaign in a number of ways. Please see below how you can support our postcard campaign and spread memes across social media and email to raise awareness. There are also a number of campaigns being planned over the next few months and details will be posted on my blog.

The main people that we need to convince to change direction are First Minister Carwyn Jones, Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies and all of the candidates in the Welsh Labour Leadership Election. The key emails are:

First Minister Carwyn Jones: Carwyn.Jones@gov.wales or Tweet @fmwales
Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca-Davies: DS.MinCandSC@gov.wales or Tweet @huw4ogmore
Mark Drakeford AM: Mark.Drakeford@gov.wales or Tweet @wgcs_finance

Other emails will be published once we have a full list of candidates running in the meantime you can contact your local AM and anyone connected to the Welsh Government.

For more information please contact Nathan Lee Davies at nathandavies01@hotmail.com There is also a dedicated Facebook page to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant and Twitter users should follow @nathanleedavies

Continue reading for further supporting evidence on why saving this grant is so crucial for 1,300 disabled people and the democratic future of the Party we all believe in.

Media Articles

Wales Live, BBC One Wales, 09/05/2018

Welsh Government under pressure over disabled grant

Disabled man continues fight for independent lives in Flintshire and Wrexham

This disabled man has lost half his care after Tories axed the Independent Living Fund

Welsh Government has ‘sold disabled people down the river’

Independent living grants: Disability campaigner fear cuts

Postcards

Take part in our postcard campaign in a number of ways. We would like to encourage people to print the image below and pose for a selfie while holding it to show your support and help raise awareness  of our campaign. You can share it on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Instagram using #SaveWILG.

Alternatively, you can contact me for one of the 500 cards I have had printed with a special message to Children and Social Care Minister Huw Irranca-Davies. There are also cards to be sent to First Minister Carwyn Jones and blank cards that can be sent to the Leadership Candidates who must realise that if they want our support they must publicly support our campaign. You can also send these postcards to your local AM to encourage them to argue our case in the Senedd.

Memes

To be shared on social media or sent to your AM via email.

Button badges – Only £1

Wear one of our badges with pride to help raise awareness and raise much-needed funds to propel the campaign forward. Contact me to make a purchase and I will make sure the badges get to you quickly and safely.

Activist celebrates after Welsh Labour backs independent living campaign #SaveWILG

Taken from an original article by John Pring on the Disability News Service website:

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A disabled activist who has campaigned to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) is celebrating after the Welsh Labour annual conference voted to back his campaign.

Nathan Lee Davies has led a campaign to force the Labour-run Welsh government to reverse its decision to scrap the grant, which was introduced to support disabled people with high support needs in Wales to live independently after the UK government closed the Independent Living Fund in 2015.

An estimated 1,300 people in Wales receive support through the WILG scheme.

And this week, at their annual conference, members of Welsh Labour voted in favour of a motion that called on their government to maintain WILG, at least until the next Welsh assembly elections in 2021.

Before the vote, Davies had also secured support from Labour’s UK leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who posed for a picture holding one of the campaign’s “WHERE THERE’S A W.I.L.G. THERE’S A WAY” tee-shirts.

After the vote, Davies posted a blog in which he described his “emotional day” following a victory he said was “key for disabled rights across Wales and throughout the UK”.

He added: “We should all rejoice while remembering the fight is far from over as we need to ensure Welsh Labour listen to the will of their members.”

Davies has previously described his terror at the prospect of his cash-strapped local authority taking over full responsibility for providing his care package, having been told that without WILG his own care package would be reduced from 86.5 hours to just 31 hours a week.

He has described the campaign as a “life or death” fight.

He told Disability News Service yesterday (Wednesday) that the passing of the motion was “obviously the high point of our ever-growing campaign” but that it “does not mean that we have succeeded in securing WILG”.

He said: “We must continue with our campaign and ensure the Welsh government listen and act upon the wishes of their members.

“One thing is for sure, we won’t rest until we preserve and improve the Welsh Independent Living Grant.”

He thanked the cross-party and union support for his campaign – including the “wonderfully supportive” Clwyd constituency Labour party, which proposed the motion – and the other recipients of WILG.

He particularly praised members of Welsh Labour Grassroots – which represents the Momentum movement in Wales – who he said had “worked tirelessly to ensure independent living remains an option for those with high care and support needs”.

Davies is hoping that the Welsh government – which will have a new first minister in the autumn after Carwyn Jones announced that he would be standing down – will now reverse its decision to scrap WILG.

A spokeswoman for Welsh Labour said: “As with all motions passed at conference, this will now be considered by Welsh Labour’s policy process ahead of the next assembly elections.”

The Welsh government announced in 2016 that, after a two-year transition period, it would transfer all the £27 million-a-year provided by the UK government to support former ILF-users in Wales directly to councils.

It decided there would be no continuation of the interim WILG scheme it had been running as a stopgap since the Department for Work and Pensions closed ILF in June 2015, and would not set up a new Welsh ILF, even though such a scheme had been set up in Scotland.

All the £27 million-a-year funding is set to be transferred to Welsh local authorities this year, and they will be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients by 31 March 2019.

The Welsh government’s new Social Services and Wellbeing Act is supposed to provide new rights for people to access a re-assessment of their support at any time, with local authorities under new legal duties to support independent living.

It believes that this is a more progressive system than the one operating in England.

But Davies has said previously that the decision to transfer the £27 million to councils and close WILG meant the Welsh government had “sold disabled people down the river” and was “washing their hands of all responsibility for social care to former ILF recipients and transferring the pressure onto local authorities”.

Welsh Labour Conference 2018 #SaveWILG

There is so much to say about my first Welsh Labour Conference. I don’t have time to share everything that went on during this wonderful weekend as I have much to catch up with and organise for the next few busy weeks. Instead I will share a Facebook post that I added on Saturday night along with a collection of photographs taken by comrades during the weekend.

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This was a hugely important conference for myself and all recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant due to Motion 4 that was proposed by Clwyd South CLP. The Motion read as follows:

Contemporary Resolution to Welsh Conference 2018

Clwyd South CLP

MOTION: TO DEFEND AND SAVE THE WELSH INDEPENDENT LIVING GRANT (WILG)

The Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) was introduced to help people who previously
claimed from the UK government’s Independent Living Fund (ILF), which closed in 2015. More
than 1,500 people are helped by the WILG scheme across Wales and recipients all have a high
degree of care and support needs.

The WILG was due to run until the end of March 2017, but it has been agreed that funding
would continue for another year. The annual £27million fund will then transfer directly to local
authorities during 2018-19 so they can meet the support needs of all former ILF recipients by 31
March 2019.

This conference calls upon the Welsh Labour government to maintain the WILG, at least until
the next Welsh Assembly election, and to do so whilst retaining the following principles:

• Preservation of the triangular structure of the grant between the local authority, the
individual and a third-party stakeholder

• That the available funding should be ring-fenced in the future to ensure that allocated
monies are used for the purpose for which they are intended.

• That the well-being of disabled people should not be put at risk.

• That the most vulnerable people in society should be protected not endangered.

• That quality of life is a human right for our vulnerable individuals, rather than merely
maintaining existence.

The Welsh Labour Party to report back progress to conference 2019.

Following the proposal of this motion by my friend and comrade Angie Evans, the motion was supported by three other passionate delegates all of whom played a vital role ensuring that the proposal was passed convincingly. Cue celebrations.

The following post is from Facebook:

Saturday afternoon:

BOOM. What an emotional day at the Welsh Labour conference where Motion 4 was passed to #SaveWILG after comrades took the stage to praise a certain campaign and activist. However, this victory is not just mine but is key for disabled rights across Wales and throughout the UK. All my fellow campaigners should also take a bow – this wasn’t just a one man show. We should all rejoice while remembering the fight is far from over as we need to ensure Welsh Labour listen to the will of their members.

I propose a #SaveWILG celebration and review meeting next week. Have a drink for me tonight and sing ‘Ohhh Nathan Lee Davies‘ 

PS – Good riddance Carwyn…

[The following article first appeared on the excellent All too Human blog – After Carwyn Jones]

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The important thing to remember is that the #SaveWILG campaign still continues as although we have won a key battle in our attempts to save WILG, The war to preserve independent living continues…

#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

New Badges and Easter Memes #SaveWILG

I am pleased to announce that the new WILG badges have arrived and are plastered with our new slogan: Where there’s a WILG, there’s a way. I hope you will agree that the badges look really good and it is an excellent slogan dreamed up by myself and my PA when we were messing about with ideas.

These badges are available for £1 each with all profits going directly towards the #SaveWILG campaign. You can simply get in touch with me and I will be able to send you some in the post or deliver it in person at one of our many campaigning events that we have planned for the coming months.



We also have green badges available and these can be obtained along with the red badges for £1 each.


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During the Easter period, we are encouraging people to share our newly produced memes across social media. In particular, we are targeting Welsh AM’s from all parties, but especially a few influential figures in Welsh Labour such as First Minister Carwyn Jones (@fmwales), Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies (@huw4ogmore) and Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething (@wgcs_health).

I have even written a tweet for you to copy and paste into Twitter and send to those suggested above. I can’t make it any easier for you. This will help you to do something positive over the long weekend and alleviate your guilt for stuffing your face with chocolate.

Suggested tweet:

@fmwales @huw4ogmore @wgcs_health Protect disabled people and their families #SaveWILG. 

You can also share on Facebook as all three AM’s have their own pages. If there are any other influential AM’s or Councillors that you can contact that would be great.