Above picture: UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with SWILG campaign leader & WILG recipient Nathan Lee Davies. Clwyd South Labour party secretary Jackie Owen is also featured.
We find it quite astonishing that we have to write this article. Genuinely baffling, genuinely frustrating and genuinely worrying. Despite achieving something quite extraordinary-defeating Welsh Labour, almost unanimously, at Welsh Labour conference in terms of our motion to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (SWILG aka WILG) CLICK HERE for full info, the government in Wales has ignored this. Providing little more than saying ‘we are just going to completely ignore you & democracy’ by not offering even a review!!
It also means they are ignoring disability groups (we take exception to the suggestion that disability groups were consulted and supported the scrapping of WILG), Welsh Labour MPs, AMs, English MPs, the above photo!, the Welsh Labour membership, Unite the union who stood against the Welsh government on this, campaigners, other political parties, the various media reports (such as the excellent report from BBC Wales’ Paul Martin CLICK HERE to watch), the evidence from Scotland where they maintained the equivalent grant to great success (this covers Northern Ireland, too), the negative feedback & worrying consequences of when the Tories scrapped this in England, the general electorate and the feedback from WILG recipients who have been assessed already and those working for those people. Why on earth, regardless of where this is in the process of bureaucracy, are the Welsh government going to allow the most disabled people in Wales to transition into something that has generally already proven to be a terrible idea?! Indeed, we AS LABOUR opposed the equivalent in England!!!
Nathan himself has written an open letter about this which you can find by CLICKING HERE. Thanks also to those journalists who have ran with the issue. The latest example being Steve Bagnall of The Daily Post-CLICK HERE to read.
Here is where we need YOU. By ‘we’ I mean our campaign & the approx 1,300-1,500 current recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant. If you used to receive the ILF grant and live in England, please tell us and Huw Irranca-Davies (the minister responsible for implementing this) exactly why losing that grant in that form has proven to have had such a negative impact. If you live in Scotland and you or someone you know receives the equivalent grant there, please let us know how and why you are relieved to still receive it. Then, of course, those in Wales who receive WILG OR those who have been assessed for transition to the current proposed replacement for WILG, please contact us and Huw Irranca-Davies.
We say this anyway, knowing that most of those who receive WILG are not in a position health-wise to be able to send such emails/raise concerns. That is why we fight for you all.
So, obviously being polite and respectful and never abusive, you can contact Huw Irranca-Davies, the AM responsible, by emailing him via: DS.MinCandSC@gov.wales or Huw.Irranca-Davies@assembly.wales Twitter: @huw4ogmore or @wgmin_csc (why not send to both email addresses and CC us/Nathan in?).
Nathan’s email: email@example.com Twitter: @nathanleedavies
Again, politely, respectfully and with no form of abuse (obviously!), you may also wish to contact those who wish to stand for the new leader of the Welsh government & Welsh Labour. There is only one official declaration so far: Mark Drakeford. Email: Mark.Drakeford@gov.wales or Tweet @markdrakeford or @wgcs_finance . Others mooted to stand are Huw Irranca-Davies (see above) and current Health minister Vaughan Gething Email: Vaughan.Gething@assembly.wales or Tweet: @wgcs_health or @vaughangething . If any of the above are doing hustings or public speeches/appearances, please ask them re scrapping WILG.
The key points to remember: 1. This absolutely does NOT have to happen. 2. The key aspect is maintaining the current 3-way responsibility: Patient, Welsh government, Local Authority-this stops a ‘post code’ lottery re outcomes. Losing this, as will happen under the new proposal, means the most disabled people having to deal individually with their own local authority even more; people who may not, literally, be able to do so. 3. The money for the new grant is NOT ring-fenced. Every recipient has to be assessed. This costs a lot-from our Freedom Of Information requests, we can see any money from WG to cover this will not be anywhere near enough. How can Local Authorities take money from the cuts they have already made? They can’t. So that leaves one pot of money…the money that was/is meant to be for the grant itself; what choice will LA’s have but to use that money for assessments & admin?!…
…We already know from some recipients who have been assessed that they are petrified as they will be now on less money and less caring hours (with the previous amount not enough anyway!). 4. Scotland/Northern Ireland have proven it does not need to change, that is actually both economically and morally the wrong way to deal with this, and the negative results of this process having already taken place in England. 5. Disabled people have a right to LIVE. Not just ‘exist’. 6. If you are a Labour party member, our party was formed to STOP things like this taking place, not to endorse and implement them! 7. TIME-Nathan has a condition called Friedreich’s ataxia, the average life expectancy of which is 35 years. Nathan is 41. So when the answer comes back to say “Let’s see how it goes after a year and then re-evaluate” that in itself is an insulting statement. Indeed, as Nathan says:
“I appeal to Huw Irranca-Davies 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.”
So, PLEASE do take the time to write-it doesn’t have to be more than a few lines taken from the info above, and, preferably, your own experiences or those of someone you know. Then please CC Nathan in and let us know re any responses. Or if you need any more info please do contact us via contacting Nathan: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @nathanleedavies
In solidarity, all of Wales & beyond. THANK YOU. DIOLCH YN FAWR.