Wrexham

PLAID CYMRU PRESS RELEASE: Leanne Wood AM Shows Support #SaveWILG

Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government to maintain an essential grant for disabled people after 20% of AMs backed a statement of opinion.

Plaid Cymru has tabled a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly calling for the Welsh Independent Living Grant, which allows severely disabled people to continue to live independently, to be retained. The Welsh Government plans to scrap the grant next year, transferring the responsibilities over to Local Authorities.

Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, has been campaigning to keep the grant for several years, and managed to pass a motion of support for maintain the grant at this year’s Welsh Labour Spring Conference.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM said:

“Those in receipt of the Welsh Independent Grant tell me how vitally important it is to them. Not only financially, but more importantly it gives them that independence to control their own lives. We all have our dignity, and having that ability to make our own decisions over our own lives is important for all of us. This is why recipients of the WILG wish to keep it, and given the chance to roll it out to other disabled people as well.

“Scotland have managed to keep their Independent Living Fund, ensuring that they have a national criteria. They’ve also invested more into it, meaning that more people can benefit from it. Evidence from London shows that former Independent Living Fund Recipients there have suffered as a consequence of the Tories cutting the grant and passporting the programme onto local authorities. Labour in Wales should follow the Scottish lead rather than the Tories in England, and ensure that our most seriously disabled people are shown respect and can live their lives as independently as possible. Recipients of WILG are seriously concerned about the future when they should be enjoying what is left of their lives.”

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Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for North Wales, Llyr Gruffydd said:

“Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant tell me that the system as it is now works well, and they fear that transferring the responsibility over to councils would compromise their independence. Maintaining their independence is paramount. Their dignity and right to independence should be respected.

“Scotland’s Government has maintained its Independent Living Grant and indeed invested in the scheme. It’s widely supported by disabled people, and it provides a national criteria instead of forcing a prescribed criteria locally that would result in a post code lottery for the most severely disabled people. This is what will happen in Wales under the proposals.

“I’m calling for each Assembly member to sign up to my Statement of Opinion, and urging as many people to contact their Assembly Member asking them to support it. So far 20% of Assembly Members have signed up. I would hope that Labour Assembly Members would support it, as it chimes with their own party policy that was only passed earlier this year following a strong grassroots campaign.”

Disability campaigner Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, gave his backing for the Statement of Opinion:

“This is a very frightening time for disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales as they are being asked to rely solely on cash-strapped local authorities to meet their daily living requirements. The Welsh Government is quite simply washing its hands of all responsibility towards this section of society.

“Care packages were originally agreed upon by the disabled individual, local authorities and a third-party social worker who was entirely independent. Under the new system, who would disabled people be able to turn to if they did not agree with the local authority? The existing tripartite system for deciding care packages MUST be maintained.

“I should also underline the fact that I am an employer who provides work for five other people. The loss of WILG could mean that my personal assistants will be losing significant amounts of work.”

The Statement of Opinion says:

This Assembly:
1. Notes the cuts suffered by local authorities over recent years, and the squeeze on social services budgets across Wales.
2. Further notes that article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states how people with disabilities should have “choices equal to others”.
3. Commends the Scottish Government on introducing a successful Independent Living Fund that is trusted and has a national criteria.
4. Believes that the Welsh Independent Living Grant should be retained as a national funding package with a national criteria, ensuring the recipients independence, along the lines of ILF Scotland.
Anybody wanting to urge their AM to sign the Statement of Opinion should ask them to support OPIN-2018-0094 The future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

SOP and signatories here: http://record.assembly.wales/StatementOfOpinion/94

Ends

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#SaveWILG REACTION: Social services ‘close to breaking point’ as it faces £3m budget cut

This is a four part Tweet that I have just posted on Twitter in relation to an article that appeared in the local newspaper on Friday about the self manufactured crisis that Wrexham CBC Social Services find themselves in:

@fmwales @huw4ogmore @JulieMorganLAB @MarkDrakeford @johnpringdns @PaulNeilMartin @IanCLucas @lesley4wrexham @DavidRowlandsAM @JFinchSaunders @RhunapIorwerth @MikeHedgesAM @neiljmcevoy Still they want to close WILG. MANY LA’s are in similar situations: http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/…/16345358.wrexham-social-serv…/ … 1/4

Disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales MUST be protected. This is what EVERYONE believes is right apart from a few civil servants and Minister’s in Cardiff. Our FOI’s clearly show that there is chaos and confusion across Wales over WILG reassessments. 2/4

As my progressive condition deteriorates I am in urgent need of 24/7 care within my own home as I struggle against Mother Nature. No one should be forced to sleep on a urine soaked mattress due to inadequate care. This is happening NOW in the 21st century. 3/4

Welsh Labour need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they are in power if they can’t help those who need their help the most. 4/4

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Here is the article in question taken from The Leader

FEARS have been raised that social services in Wrexham are close to breaking point after it was revealed they could face a £3m budget cut.

Wrexham Council is looking to save approximately £11m in the next two years and has warned that a reduction in spending across both adults and childrens’s social care could be required unless central funding increases.

While stressing that the £3m figure had yet to be formally agreed, leading councillors are lobbying to be given more money to allow them to continue to protect vulnerable residents.

Addressing an executive board meeting this morning, leader of the council Mark Pritchard said: “They’re all important services and we’re here to protect and look after these difficult cases and individuals.

“We can’t continue to cut in these areas, because the departments and the service will break and it’s close to that now. I have no problem saying that.

“It’s only down to the dedicated staff in Wrexham and all across Wales that we continue to deliver these services.

“You can’t continually put money in health and not put money into social care. I have no problem with extra going into health, I celebrate it and it’s a must as well, but you can’t then not put it into social care as well.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand it, because I go and visit people and they are not aware of all the money being cut from us by Westminster and Cardiff.”

In a report it was revealed that Wrexham Council has made more than £6.3m worth of cuts to adult social care during the last four years and savings of approximately £1.3m from childrens’ services.

The social services department said it had made every effort to reduce the impact on vulnerable people while reshaping services.

However, an opposition group leader questioned where the suggested £3m savings figure had come from.

Labour leader Cllr Dana Davies said: “Can I have some clarity over where that £3m figure has come from over the next two years, as my understanding is we’re still in the budget process and no firm decisions have been made.”

In response, finance officer Mark Owen said the figures had been outlined at a previous meeting and were only indicative at this stage.

He said: “The executive board report that went in January of this year included savings which were agreed in principle at that stage in the adult social care area of about £1.9m and childrens’ social care of around £30,000.

“Then there was some other cross cutting savings associated with developing the budget for 2019/20. Those haven’t been decided that they’re going to happen, but they were clearly laid out in that report.

“You all know that we’re looking to save around £11m over the two years based on our planning assumptions and given the scale of the social care budget then the £3m would not be unreasonable in terms of the level of savings that would apply to that service area.”

Councillors voted to approve the annual social services director’s report and the improvement priorities highlighted.

The council’s final budget, including cost savings, is set to be decided at a future meeting.

Pressure grows to keep disability living grant #SaveWILG

Taken from the Plaid Wrecsam blog with sincere thanks.  

Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government to maintain an essential grant for disabled people after 20% of AMs backed a statement of opinion.

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd has tabled a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly calling for the Welsh Independent Living Grant, which allows severely disabled people to continue to live independently, to be retained. The Welsh Government plans to scrap the grant next year, transferring the responsibilities over to Local Authorities.

Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, has been campaigning to keep the grant for several years, and managed to pass a motion of support for maintain the grant at this year’s Welsh Labour Spring Conference.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:

“Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant tell me that the system as it is now works well, and they fear that transferring the responsibility over to councils would compromise their independence. Maintaining their independence is paramount. Their dignity and right to independence should be respected.

“Scotland’s Government has maintained its Independent Living Grant and indeed invested in the scheme. It’s widely supported by disabled people, and it provides a national criteria instead of forcing a prescribed criteria locally that would result in a post code lottery for the most severely disabled people. This is what will happen in Wales under the proposals.

“I’m calling for each Assembly member to sign up to my Statement of Opinion, and urging as many people to contact their Assembly Member asking them to support it. So far 20% of Assembly Members have signed up. I would hope that Labour Assembly Members would support it, as it chimes with their own party policy that was only passed earlier this year following a strong grassroots campaign.”

Disability campaigner Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham, gave his backing for the Statement of Opinion:

“This is a very frightening time for disabled people with high care and support needs across Wales as they are being asked to rely solely on cash-strapped local authorities to meet their daily living requirements. The Welsh Government is quite simply washing its hands of all responsibility towards this section of society.

“Care packages were originally agreed upon by the disabled individual, local authorities and a third-party social worker who was entirely independent. Under the new system, who would disabled people be able to turn to if they did not agree with the local authority? The existing tripartite system for deciding care packages MUST be maintained.

“I should also underline the fact that I am an employer who provides work for five other people. The loss of WILG could mean that my personal assistants will be losing significant amounts of work.”

The Statement of Opinion says:

This Assembly:
1. Notes the cuts suffered by local authorities over recent years, and the squeeze on social services budgets across Wales.
2. Further notes that article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states how people with disabilities should have “choices equal to others”.
3. Commends the Scottish Government on introducing a successful Independent Living Fund that is trusted and has a national criteria.
4. Believes that the Welsh Independent Living Grant should be retained as a national funding package with a national criteria, ensuring the recipients independence, along the lines of ILF Scotland.
Anybody wanting to urge their AM to sign the Statement of Opinion should ask them to support OPIN-2018-0094 The future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

SOP and signatories here: http://record.assembly.wales/StatementOfOpinion/94

Postcard Campaign Continues… #SaveWILG

It is time to breathe new life into our #SaveWILG postcard campaign. We already have hundreds of photos and would like to reach out across Britain to ask people to show their solidarity by posing with one of our postcard which can then be posted to the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies.

It is essential that we keep up the pressure and show the Minister the depth of support that we have on this matter. I have added some photos that we took at the Caia Park Environmental Group Fun Day in Wrexham on June 9th.

These provide good examples of the type of photographs we would like. All you need to do is contact me to request a card and I can make sure you get one. All our cards include a message to Huw Irranca-Davies on the reverse and once you have taken photographs then you can pop a second class stamp on them and post it to the Minister. 

Many thanks for your support 🙂

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Wear them with Pride

Two new badges have arrived and will soon be available. Thanks must go to Keith Sinclair and his badge making contact, Rob.

The first badge is of the character I created with the help of an online Avatar creator during my dark years in Inverness. I like using this Avatar on all my work as it means I did something useful during these ‘lost’ years. They are perfect for my growing fanbase who want to show their support for my work 🙂

The Wrexham DPAC badges will hopefully help to foster a sense of togetherness for disabled people based in Wrexham as we fight back against the exploitation shown towards to us by Wrexham Council. An example of this unfairness can be seen below.

Both badges will be available at forthcoming information days or directly from me at £1 each.

 

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I wrote the following paragraph in an email to a friend following an annoying trip to Wrexham Town Centre where they have just introduced car park charges for Blue Badge holders despite my protest, which can be read in previous blog posts.

Just had a frustrating drive around town where I could not find anywhere to park. These damn principles won’t let me pay the Council anything so it seems that I won’t be able to go to town until 2022 when I hope we can elect a decent bunch of Councillors. I was thinking of maybe printing loads of stickers to paste around town protesting these parking charges.Something needs to be done as all they have succeeded in doing is to cut me off from their hometown. I wanted to open a bank account at NatWest today but I am not paying to park my car.  

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Thanks to Sylvia Prankard for the photograph. 

‘I will spend what remains of my life fighting this if I have to’ – Disabled man’s battle for grant to live independently #SaveWILG

The following article appeared in the Daily Post and includes a video of me speaking to the Journalist Steven Bagnall as the fight to #SaveWILG intensifies.

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A disabled man says he will continue fighting for the rest of his life against Welsh Government moves to scrap a grant to help him live independently.

Nathan Lee Davies from Wrexham, made the pledge after social care minister Huw Iranca-Davies indicated this week ministers are pressing ahead with the plan to stop the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG).

The £27m fund is paid to about 1,300 disabled people in Wales to allow them to live in their own homes.

But the cash is currently being transferred to local authorities and by the end of March next year they will assess and decide on care packages.

Mr Davies, who is campaigning against the move, fears the money will be absorbed into struggling council’s cash-strapped budgets and will see the 86.5 hours he currently receives massively reduced.

He has friedreich ataxia disease which damages the nerve system.

It has left him needing an electric wheelchair to get about and extensive care to live alone.

“We were on a massive high after the Welsh Labour conference voted to oppose the moves,” Mr Davies said.

“But after what Huw Iranca- Davies recently said, it is massively deflating. I do fear I may become trapped in my house.

Nathan Davies outside his home. Mr Davies is determined to fight to keep the Welsh Independent Living Grant (Image: Daily Post Wales)

“I feel like I am wasting precious time fighting this – I am 41 and the average life expectancy for someone with my condition is 35.

“But I feel it is the right thing to do – not just for me – but for the other 1,300 people, some who cannot speak up for themselves and I will do it until the end if I have to.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said no individual would lose their current payments until they have worked through and agreed their support package with the council.

He said: “Welsh Government and councils in Wales are determined to support independent living for all disabled people, recognising that independent living is key to a full and satisfying life.

“We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing transition to the new scheme to make sure this happens.”

A Wrexham council spokeswoman said the authority is following the Welsh Government process and working to review all people in receipt of the WILG.

She said: “It is not possible to predict what the outcomes will be for individuals.

“We do work with people to identify alternative ways for them to meet their support needs where it is appropriate.

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.