WILG

Wrexham man’s disability campaign will lead to thousands of lives being improved

The following article was taken from the Leader Live website. I am claiming no credit for writing this article which also appears in the Leader newspaper. 

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Improvements have been made to the way care is delivered for more than 1,000 disabled people in Wales to help ensure they get the support they need to live independent lives.

Local Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, has welcomed the Welsh Government’s latest announcement and congratulated Wrexham resident, Nathan Lee Davies, who headed a strong campaign and made representations to the Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan AM, on the matter.

Concerns regarding the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) were initially raised when it was announced the responsibility for the scheme, which had been introduced after the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), was to be passed onto local authorities to manage from April this year. Nathan feared the changes would have a detrimental effect on his wellbeing and initiated the ‘Save WILG’ campaign.

The hard work has paid off as under the latest proposals, additional measures have been put in place to ensure nobody who was once in receipt of WILF, and its predecessor ILF, misses out as a result of the changes. An independent social work assessment will be offered to all former ILF recipients who are unhappy with their new care and support package and would like a second opinion.

The Welsh Government will provide additional funding to local authorities for the cost of the workers to carry out these independent assessments and additional care hours that may result from the assessments.

Lesley Griffiths AM said: “It was vitally important that people who previously received payments from the Welsh Independent Living Grant were not negatively affected by the transition. These latest measures will help ensure the new system is implemented properly, assuring levels of care and support throughout Wales are delivered consistently.”

“There’s no doubt the Save WILG campaign made a real difference. Having met with Nathan a number of times, it was always clear to see the extra stress and anxiety this was causing him. I am pleased to have helped facilitate the Minister’s meeting with Nathan in Wrexham and I hope all the individuals who feared they were going to be adversely affected are happy with the outcome.”

The £27m Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) was originally set up in 2015 following a decision by the UK coalition Government to close the Independent Living Fund.

Welsh Government consulted with partners to develop a long term strategy. A two-year transition period began in April 2017 in which all former ILF recipients in Wales who were now in receipt of payments under WILG would have their care needs assessed by their local authority to ensure a care plan was agreed and support package put in place.

While the transition period resulted in the majority of recipients being satisfied with the new arrangements, some former ILF recipients, who had not been subject to a care assessment since 2015, were concerned by the change in approach, with the reassessment causing tension in some cases.

The announcement by the Welsh Government aims to address the inconsistencies, with evidence suggesting the variation between local authorities warrants a change in direction and the Welsh Government has written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in revised arrangements.

U-turn on disabled living grant welcomed by Plaid

The following article was taken from the Plaid Wrecsam blog. I take no credit for the article and thank everyone at Plaid for their support.

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Today sees a Plaid Cymru-initiated debate on the Welsh Independent Living Grant in the Senedd. 

Coincidentally, the Welsh Government yesterday announced it was pausing its controversial plans to axe the grant, which enables disabled people in Wales to live independently and manage their own affairs. The pause comes after relentless pressure coordinated by Wrexham campaigner Nathan Lee Davies and many others. The debate was intended to maintain the pressure on the Labour Government, which had decided to follow the Tory line in Westminster and axe the grant.

Responding to the decision by the Welsh Government to bring in revised arrangements for the Welsh Independent Living Grant, Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru shadow minister for social justice said:

 

“The Welsh Government should just have the guts to admit it got this wrong from the very beginning. After the proposed changes are filtered through, we should have a situation where no disabled person has lost out on care. However, we will be spending considerably more money on administration and reviews to get to this point than if the Welsh Government had just adopted the Scottish and Northern Ireland approach of retaining the fund – as we argued for at the time. 

“The problems identified that have led to this suspension of the transition were entirely predictable and have caused disabled people a great deal of anxiety and stress. All because Welsh Labour have been too stubborn to listen to disabled people and their own party activists over the bureaucrats in local authorities.”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, has campaigned on behalf of WILG recipients for the past year and said:

“Without the tireless campaign of disability activists such as my constituent Nathan Lee Davies, it’s unlikely this U-turn would have happened. Disabled people would have faced yet another significant cut to the support they have and a loss to their independence. 

“Questions have to be asked about why the Welsh Government made the wrong decision in the first place and what it really says about how much it listens to disabled people. Where has the government been before now in acknowledging its proposals wouldn’t work?

“Coming twenty-four hours before Plaid Cymru’s debate to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant, they clearly did not relish defending their failed policy.”

 

Wales disability support cuts: ‘Second opinion’ offered by ministers

The following article is taken from BBC News online. I am not taking any credit for the article and the original piece can be accessed by clicking on this link. 

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Severely disabled people unhappy with their care package will be offered independent assessments, say ministers.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) is being scrapped with councils taking over funding care for the more than 1,000 people receiving it.

Previous social care minister Huw Irranca Davies had insisted there would be “no losers” due to the changes.

But, in October, BBC Wales discovered around 100 of the 600 recipients reassessed had lost some support.

The research was conducted by the Wales Live programme.

On Tuesday, the Welsh Government said anyone wanting a “second opinion” could have an “independent social work assessment” and the move to the new system would be put on hold while new arrangements are put in place.

Plaid Cymru said the Welsh Government should “admit it has got this one wrong from the very beginning”.

Announcing the change in policy, Deputy Health and Social Services Minister Julie Morgan said: “It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes the care and support provided for people previously in receipt of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

“These changes will ensure that is the case and deliver a consistent level of care and support across Wales.

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.

“While the majority of former ILF [Independent Living Fund] recipients are receiving the same or more care as they were previously, a significant number have experienced a reduction in hours of support,” said Mrs Morgan.

“There is also considerable variation in the reductions in support.

“I have therefore written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in the revised arrangements.

“This is a significant change of approach that ensures that the needs of former WILG recipients will be fully met, and that resources are no barrier to a full package of care and support.”

Julie Morgan
Image captionJulie Morgan campaigned for a change in the system as a backbencher

Mrs Morgan also announced that the Welsh Government would provide additional funding to councils for the cost of the workers to carry out these independent assessments and additional care hours that may result from the assessments.

The independent assessments will be consistent with people’s agreed “wellbeing outcome” and acknowledge the historical entitlement of former ILF recipients, she added.

Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood said the Welsh Government should “admit it has got this one wrong from the very beginning”.

“After the proposed changes are filtered through, we should thankfully have a situation where no disabled person has lost out on care.

“However, we will be spending considerably more money on administration and reviews to get to this point than if the Welsh Government had just adopted the Scottish and Northern Ireland approach of retaining the fund – as we argued for at the time.”

Huw David, Welsh Local Government Association social services spokesman, said: “In a time of austerity, any additional funding for social care is to be welcomed and I am pleased to see a commitment of extra investment from Welsh Government that will help to ensure the needs of former WILG recipients are fully met.

Local authorities would continue to work with ministers to address any concerns about the new system, he added.

Presentational grey line

Analysis

By Wales Live reporter Paul Martin

With an acknowledgement a “significant number” of people have had support cut, a guarantee of independent re-assessments, and extra cash for any increased care packages, this adds up to a pretty big shift.

It puts new Social Services Deputy Minister Julie Morgan at odds with her predecessor Huw Irranca Davies who had said the new council-run system would be fairer and that there would be “no losers.”

There are questions now about how easy this change will be, and how much it will cost.

But “Save WILG” campaigner Nathan Lee Davies – who won significant support at Welsh Labour conference – described it as “the perfect 42nd birthday present”.

Essential Viewing: Wales Live

PLEASE WATCH THIS. APOLOGIES FOR THE LENGTH OF TEXT, BUT PLEASE READ & SHARE THIS (via copying and pasting or going to Clwyd South Labour Party Facebook page if you can’t share from here. Thank you).

Video is from approx 8mins 35 secs in.

Another superb report about the Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG campaign by the BBC’s Paul Martin, who again puts his UK-level colleagues to shame by showing how journalism should be done.

With Plaid securing a debate on WILG on Wednesday in the Assembly, we at Clwyd South Labour Party & Labour for Wrexham join our MPs Susan Elan Jones MP & Ian Lucas in calling on the Welsh government, OUR party, to finally make the change that absolutely NOBODY (apart from seemingly some Cabinet Ministers), ANYWHERE-inside or outside Labour-is against!

Both Mark Drakeford AM & Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North are good people, who we campaigned, phonebanked, door-knocked & supported passionately during their respective campaigns; both have been openly supportive of what we are trying to do.

So, if anyone is in doubt as to how important this is, or why it is ESSENTIAL that the Welsh Independent Living Grant with a confirmed TRIPARTITE (recipient, Local Authority, WAG-with WAG controlling admin & money) system is saved, then let us present evidence in addition to expert opinion:

-via FOI, VERY clearly, without a shred of doubt, the evidence in black & white shows that the current system implemented last year is failing lots of people. Demonstrably so. We have pages and pages of evidence and reports that prove that, putting all emotional pleas to one side, NOT keeping WILG with Tripartite is demonstrably worsening the lives of many, while as Dame Tani Grey-Thompson says, the inevitability of it costing MORE by NOT doing this!

Add to this we have plenty of evidence of what happens when the WILG equivalent is kept as in Scotland & Northern Ireland (very successful) V when it is scrapped, hence WILG to begin with, in England-i.e. Terrible results for the most vulnerable. Not surprising given this is, no matter how it is dressed up & accepting it was not the original intention, very clearly a Neo Liberal policy-the antithesis of what we stand for in Labour.

-NONE of the recipients are creating a two-tier system. WAG is. Both at the initial stage-their choice, but also now with the wildly differing results from Local Authorities. THAT is a two-tier system! Also, the number of recipients is only going DOWN, so if WAG do not think it is obvious that THE most vulnerable people in Wales deserve their direct protection (Tripartite), then we would love to know why.

-Democracy: We are very pleased to see Mark Drakeford re-emphasizing how we are a democratic, member-led party in Wales. Therefore, we expect, obviously, that the vote at Welsh Labour conference 2018 is upheld and that we keep WILG with a Tripartite system. Otherwise, as one of the first acts of the new administration, it’s not exactly a good look if the largest ever defeat for WL is ignored given the committed stance on democracy!!! Many would question what the point of conference motions are if this is ignored.

-Total unanimous support to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG from the following:

The Labour Party membership inside & outside Wales

Labour MPs inside & outside Wales and AMs, Councillors etc in Wales

The Leader of the Labour Party at UK level Jeremy Corbyn

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Welsh Labour Grassroots- The Home for Momentum in Wales

Unite the union

Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson

The UN

The Official UK-wide Disability Group for Labour who also passed our motion

ALL other political parties in Wales. ALL!

Every single Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Wales that we have had direct contact with, and many we haven’t

Wrexham FC, Ken Loach, Mark Thomas, Atilla The Stockbroker, Joe Solo & MANY other cultural icons

Do we need to go on? We repeat, we have faith in both Mark Drakeford & Julie Morgan to do the right thing as they are good Socialist people. IF, and we say IF, this is a failure of consensus politics, then annoy those objecting in your cabinet. Not the most vulnerable people in Wales. IF this is being stopped by the egos of others, because OBVIOUSLY it is not based in evidence, is it?!, then I am afraid WE, because WE are Labour, MUST stand up to anyone wishing to block what is an ABSOLUTE NO-BRAINER!!!

To be clear-our campaign will only heap praise on Mark Drakeford, Julie Morgan & Welsh Labour if they secure what is ethically, economically, politically & procedurally the right thing to do. We will praise them for listening and PROVING this new administration is a listening one, that it is very much a Socialist one, and very much an administration that respects democracy. It will be a statement of intent. It will, to quote Rhodri Morgan, show “Clear red water” between the Tories in Westminster & Labour in Wales. Nathan & the campaign has done everything by the book, jumping EVERY admin/democratic hurdle.

Now with this democracy-centred, inclusive, Socialist administration in addition to all the glaring, factual evidence, NO OPPOSITION either internally or externally, the UK Leader & Shadow Chancellor, the UN, Welsh MPs & AMs, THE CONFERENCE VOTE etc etc…This really is VERY easy to do from every conceivable angle-morally, politically, economically, PR-wise etc. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

We want to be proud to continue the fight to oppose social injustice. The average life expectancy of someone with lead campaigner Nathan Lee Davies‘s condition, is 35 years old. Tomorrow-Tuesday 12th February 2019-is Nathan’s 42nd birthday. To quote Nathan himself:

“I do not want to be using what precious time I have left fighting against the hierarchy of the party I love and campaign for. But I will if I have to. Please don’t make me.”

On behalf of the campaign, please do not make us have to, either. Do the right thing. You are good, decent people who we are proud to campaign for & defend daily. Yes, no one says your job is easy-far from it. But this decision is. PLEASE, before the party we love gets exposed in the Assembly on Wednesday, PLEASE LISTEN. THANK YOU!

WALESPOSTCARDFRONT001

Tweet #SaveWILG

Tired of Waiting… #SaveWILG

I’m too tired to write creatively today, but it is important that I let people know how I am after my blood clot scare.

I had woken on two consecutive  mornings with a badly swollen lower leg.  See pictures below:

I just thought this was a case of my sock being too tight, but after calling a Community Nurse to seek reassurance I was warned that this could in fact be a blood clot. I suddenly started to panic. My main concern was making sure I would be able to attend a crucial meeting for the #SaveWILG Campaign that we have lined up for Tuesday [12th of February].

I was rightly made to phone the Out Of Hours Doctor. I explained the situation and I was told that a doctor would be out to see me during the afternoon. The hours passed and I eventually received a telephone call  at 18.30. The doctor explained  that there was no point in him coming out to see me as he would need me to go to A&E to have a blood test and scan on suspect area. I did not want to go because I knew that this would mean hours of waiting while pointlessly staring into space…

The doctor insisted that I needed to go because if it was a clot it could have travelled to my lung. Suitably scared I spent my Saturday evening playing I Spy in A&E reception. This was good fun for the first couple of hours but as we entered our fifth hour of waiting I had lost the will to live.

I spy with my short sighted little fucking eye, something beginning with…

I had entered the hospital at 19.30 and I was being hoisted into bed at 03.00. The doctor finally examined me at 02.15 and then said there would be a further wait for the results of my latest blood test. I politely told him that I was unable to wait any longer and was going home to bed. I made sure that he had plenty of contact numbers for me and my family and wished him a good night. [TO BE CLEAR, I AM NOT HAVING A GO AT ANY OF THE NHS STAFF THAT WERE ON DUTY. AS ALWAYS THIS DEDICATED TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS WERE EXTREMELY HELPFUL IN THE FACE OF UNRELENTING PRESSURE AND STRETCHED RESOURCES].

After a solid 6 hours sleep, my PA phoned the hospital to try to discover the results of my blood test. She was given short shrift and told that it was highly unlikely that a doctor would promise to give out test results over the telephone. I was looking at a return to A&E as my leg had swollen yet again, as can be seen in the pictures above. After a morning of worry, I decided to phone A&E again myself. This time I spoke to another member of staff who had no problem in telling me that the blood test had come back negative. He reassured me that the test was 99% reliable.

I will still visit my GP in the morning as a matter of urgency. I need to have my circulation assessed and find out what exactly has been causing the swelling if it is not a clot. I will ask for the Occupational Therapist to be alerted to the problem in the hope that they might recommend something to stop this happening again.

This is just another piece of valuable evidence that shows that I cannot cope without 24/7 support in my own home. I know it, you know it, the Welsh Government know it, but Wrexham County Borough Council continue to bury their heads in the sand and deny me my human right to independent living.

I will continue to fight against the scrapping of the Welsh Independent Living Grant by the Welsh Government and carry on my crusade to achieve justice for all disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales.

 

Where Do You Go To My Lovely?

I was watching BBC Four late last night in an attempt to tire myself out so I was more likely to sleep through the night.  They were showing a programme entitled  One Hit Wonders.  

One of the artists featured was Peter Sarstedt who was singing Where Do You Go To My Lovely?  I have included a YouTube video of him performing this song below and the full lyric and some information from his Wikipedia page.  In no way am I claiming any association with this artist or his work, but while I was listening to his crooning I stumbled across an idea for the following blog.

It was the chorus that I found particularly inspiring:

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

Do you really want to know, Pete?

When I am alone in my bed, this is when I feel at my most vulnerable.  I cannot move at all or get up for a midnight snack. If the heating needs turning up, then I am forced to freeze until assistance arrives in the morning. Likewise, if I need to open the window to get some fresh air then this is not an option.

Trapped in a single position all night is not something that anyone should have to endure in 21st Century Wales. Just this morning, my PA pulled back my duvet to discover that my right leg was discoloured and swollen. Something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I had received the overnight assistance that I need to re-position myself. [I have had to call the out of hours doctor to advise me on the swelling that I am suffering. I have contacted the Community Nurses to report the issue and they directed me to the emergency GP service for fear that I may be experiencing blood clots. If only I could move my legs at night – something I can only do with the assistance of overnight support].

In addition, I should be wearing hand splints to keep my hands from curling into a fist, which would then aid my dexterity. I also have a T-bar that I should use underneath my knees whilst sleeping to keep my legs nice and straight. I can’t use this whilst I am alone at night because there is no space between my legs to place my urinal. Are you beginning to feel the same sense of injustice that I feel every night?

Last night was a particularly windy evening. My PA left my window ajar before leaving my property at 23.00. At 06.00 I was awoken by the sound of my blinds clattering together. My window had blown open further and the wind force was reaching gale proportions. I was dithering under my duvet and had to disrupt my father once again to perform the simple task of closing my window for me. Why should a 68-year-old man,with arthritis in both hands, have to expend all his energy in the middle of the night to come to the rescue of his guilt-ridden son?

Should a fire start in one of the other rooms of my bungalow, then I am toast. I would have no means of escape and this could be solved so simply… Instead, Wrexham Council think it is a good idea to lavish £250,000 on renovating our perfectly well equipped bus station.  Subsequently, the thoughts that surround me mainly revolve around my dislike and distrust of a Conservative/Independent led Local Authority and how I can survive under their influence until the next Council elections.

You wanted to know Pete…

Where Do You Go To My Lovely? Lyrics  

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Peter Eardley Sarstedt[1] (10 December 1941 – 8 January 2017), briefly billed early in his career as Peter Lincoln, was a British singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter. He was the brother of musicians Eden Kane and Clive “Robin” Sarstedt.

Although his music was classified as pop, it generally encompassed ballads derived from traditional folk music rather than traditional rock and roll. He was best known for writing and performing the song “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?“, which topped the UK Singles Chart in 1969. Set to a “faux European waltz tune”[2] and described as “a romantic novel in song”,[3] it won an Ivor Novello Award. The record remained Sarstedt’s biggest hit, despite his releasing numerous successful albums and singles from the late 1960s onward.

He continued to tour throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, mainly in 1960s revival-type shows, until his retirement in 2010 due to ill health.[4]