Above photo: Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (SWILG aka WILG) campaign leader Nathan Lee Davies with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Welsh Labour Conference Sunday 22nd April 2018. In the background is Clwyd South Labour Party Secretary Jackie Owen. Thank you to Delyth Lloyd-Williams & Cara Jowitt for the photo.
As many reading will be aware, at Welsh Labour Conference this year, Clwyd South’s motion to ‘Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant’ was passed with truly amazing levels of support across the board from all levels in, and associated with, Welsh Labour. We would like to thank Ivan Monckton & Michael Harrison for their exceptional work in getting Nathan’s union, Unite, to back our motion. We would also like to thank the various Constituency delegates for speaking on behalf of our motion. Also the MPs, AMs, Labour members and celebrities who support the motion. I don’t think anyone has ever seen a more generally-supported and popular motion, with literally only a handful of votes against in a room where hundreds were eligible to vote (and backed our motion). It remains a heart-warming, collective, Labour family achievement.
But we must now keep the pressure on the Welsh Government to do the correct thing, especially as the whole Labour family has now spoken in one united, very vocal voice. There is a reason for this; we respect very much the difficult decisions Welsh Labour has to make thanks to the morally reprehensible & economically illiterate Austerity, passed on to them by this appalling Conservative government in Westminster. We all stand should to shoulder with our party in opposing these totally unnecessary cuts. However, as we highlighted during our presentations at Conference, this is not just about money.
Devolving power to local authorities to implement a new system, and assessments, is already proving to be very problematic. Through fantastic work by Georgina Gittins, we now know that the picture across Wales is very, very worrying and inconsistent. Some Local Authorities that are already rolling out/preparing to roll out the proposed changes, don’t actually know the money is not ring-fenced. Or what costs will be. Or who is paying for these costs! Bearing in mind just how serious this issue is for the approx 1,300-1,500 recipients of WILG (Welsh Independent Living Grant), most of whom are not in a position to deal with the extra responsibility of the proposed new system. These Welsh citizens, the most disabled in Wales who need the support the most, are relying on the ‘luck of the draw’-it will become a ‘postcode lottery’. This cannot possibly be acceptable.
Full information about the SWILG campaign and the specific details can be found in a previous article which you can read/reference by CLICKING HERE.
If we take what DPAC Wrexham have said about Wrexham Council, as an example, on another matter:
“Wrexham Council is reviewing (proposing to cut) work opportunities for about 90 adults with learning disabilities in places like Alyn Waters cafe and Le Cafe in the Cunliffe Centre. These allow adults to gain valuable life experiences they wouldn’t otherwise get and losing that will set them back. Families are right to fight this penny pinching move.”
Another recent example re Wrexham Council being the introduction of charges for parking for Disabled Blue Badge holders, despite huge opposition from the public and other authorities and elected officials. Now that is Nathan’s Local Authority!
So, combine the incredible inconsistency of Local Authorities across Wales, coupled with money that is NOT ring-fenced for the new proposed grant, the cost of assessments, then add that WAG is taking itself out of the current 3-way system of Patient, Local Authority, WAG combined re decision making and monitoring… you can see that while money is obviously important, what we are most worried about is the actual implementation, maintenance and monitoring. Local Authorities are also having to make extreme cuts (thanks again to the awful Conservatives in Westminster), and then as the money is not ring-fenced, and there is no other money due to cuts, where are the LA’s going to get the money from re assessments, administration, monitoring etc…?
Indeed, the SWILG campaign is garnering all kinds of attention from across Wales and beyond. The BBC are running a feature on Nathan and the SWILG campaign tomorrow-Wednesday 9th May-on BBC One Wales on the BBC Wales Live programme (CLICK HERE) from 10.30PM. Please watch and contact the programme about our campaign. Please also continue to write to your local local local Assembly Member (AM) by CLICKING HERE and your local Member of Parliament (MP) by CLICKING HERE.
So, please do not think for a second that this campaign is over. We will never give up until the Welsh Independent Living Grant is saved. We cannot give up because the consequences really are that serious. We must also remember that WILG itself is not perfect, but should be the minimum expected from recipients. We call upon the Welsh government to please listen to the vast majority. It is both uncomfortable and regrettable for recipients that we have to ask our own party to please listen. No one will be more proud and full of praise for Welsh Labour than Nathan and all those involved with the campaign, if they have the humility and progressive mindset to listen to what Wales told them at Conference. Indeed, we have openly praised and supported the Welsh government on related issues (CLICK HERE).
It is at this point that we would like to highlight and praise Nathan Lee Davies. This is a Welsh Labour member who has dedicated his life to fighting for Welsh Labour and his community. There is no one who is more of an inspiration than Nathan. So, when he throws himself into something like this, and it is seen-and supported-by all within and outside Labour, then we must listen. Humility is a strength, not a weakness.
Nathan has a condition called Friedreich’s ataxia. This is a very unforgiving condition; the average life expectancy is 35 years old. Nathan is 41. As he points out:
“I appeal to Huw Irranca-Davies and the Welsh government to listen to everyone within and outside Welsh Labour; we are all saying the same thing. 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.”
Don’t Forget: The BBC are running a feature on Nathan and the SWILG campaign tomorrow-Wednesday 9th May-on BBC One Wales on the BBC Wales Live programme (CLICK HERE) from 10.30PM.
In Solidarity, All of Wales (and beyond).