The following notes where typed up by Sheila Meadows OBE following are meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies last week. As time goes on, I regret not saying certain things and holding him accountable for his party’s failings over the past few years. This is why I am trying to set up another meeting in Cardiff with the honourable gentlemen.
Anyway, good or bad, these are the minutes from our meeting:
Present: Mathew Hall (Civil Servant Policy Division), Ruth Parness (PA Ministers Private Office), Huw Irranca-Davies, Ian Lucas MP, Nathan Lee Davies, Sheila Meadows OBE, Tia Louise Wills
Notes taken by Sheila Meadows OBE
Nathan Lee Davies (NLD) opened the meeting explaining it has been a long, hard campaign since 2010 and particularly since 2015 with the closure of ILF and the beginning of WILG
A Social Worker visited NLD in 2015 and informed him that without WILG the council would be looking to reduce his hours of support. NLD explained he had a progressive condition and requires additional support not less. He explained his fears for the future.
NLD described his involvement in the community and states his campaign is formed from a desire to help all WILG recipients have positive outcomes.
NLD feels targeted by Wrexham Council as a disabled person (Social Care cuts/Blue Badge issues) and is frightened of the future. NLD explained the need for an independent third party that can fulfil the role of ILF in providing information and support in dealing with the council to give uniformity across councils.
NLD requested that the minister take this opportunity to achieve something better for disabled people, not just WILG recipients.
Huw Irranca-Davies (HID) discussed the history of the consultation process, Steve Harris’s 4th option and was given notes sent by Steve and the Wrexham consultation notes. He accepted there had never been complete agreement in the stakeholder group but was clear he wanted every penny of the £27 million to go to the care of former ILF recipients to maintain their independent living. HID is also aware of the problems facing disabled people in England.
HID was clear that he had no intention of changing policy, but was also clear that he expected LAs to be assessing fairly to meet needs. Under the SSWBA, ALL people should be supported to achieve the outcomes they require for their mental and physical health.
Ian Lucas (IL) pointed out that when an urgent letter was sent to Wrexham council in November, far from supporting recipients by making contact and reducing anxiety as requested they had merely filed it. He has no confidence that Wrexham LA will come forward to produce a process or plan for meeting the high level of needs of this group of disabled people.
There was a wide discussion on how and who takes responsibility when a LA does not, or cannot meet the requirements of the WG.
NLD explained how he felt during initial discussions with his social worker last month. She laughed when he suggested he needed 24-hour care and knew the panel would reject such a request out of hand. NLD feels far from working with him to meet his needs, he is seen as an inconvenient nuisance by Wrexham council.
HID and Matthew Hall (MH) confirmed the policy was not to reduce the support people have but to meet their needs to continue to live in the community.
MH has agreed to send a follow up letter to NLD and Sheila Meadows (SM) once he has spoken with HID – who has now left the meeting. NLD and SM also reinforced the loss of the knowledgeable and supportive body we had in ILF and MH agreed to consider how to ensure an LA who is not performing well will be forced/supported to move forward.
SM closed the meeting with a quote by Gwenda Thomas: “It is no longer good enough that they do things differently – we must do different things.”