April Blog: Towards Independent Living in Wales

Vin West

The way that a government treats those who have the least power is a fair rule of thumb as to its level of civilisation.

 

These are hard times, as evidenced by the nightly news. UK government “welfare reform”, public service cuts and other neoliberal policies have had a huge impact on disabled people’s lives.

 

The UK Government is currently under investigation by the United Nations for alleged breaches of disabled people’s human rights, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

 

Here in Wales we are fortunate to have seen government with a human face. The Welsh Labour government has provided some protection against the worst impacts of ‘austerity’ cuts, whilst also putting in place a Framework for Action on Independent Living. Although this has yet to translate into real improvements to disabled people’s lives, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

 

In contrast, despite major concerns of a potential negative impact on disabled people’s lives, the UK Government handed ILF funding to local authorities in England, without ‘ring-fencing’. As a result, many ILF recipients are facing desperate situations as their funding is cut.

 

In the Appeal Court Mrs Justice Andrews referred to “the inevitable and considerable adverse effect which the closure of the fund will have, particularly on those who, as a consequence, will lose the ability to live independently.”

 

In Wales the Minister of Health & Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM, held a consultation about how to best handle the ILF closure. This provided significant support for an option to establish a National Independent Living Scheme in Wales, similar to the Scottish ILF, which disabled people in Northern Ireland are also able to access.

 

Instead, funding was transferred to Welsh local authorities via the Welsh Independent Living Grant with conditions attached, distinguishing it from the arrangement in England. Discussions are on-going to agree an approach when the grant ends in 2017.

 

The Welsh Government adopted the Social Model of Disability in 2002. Whilst there is still a long way to go to implement it in practice, the social model, the Framework for Action on Independent Living and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People have all influenced the new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.

 

This requires local authorities to concentrate not just on the wellbeing of citizens in a vague sense, but on individuals’ own interpretation of what wellbeing means to them. The Act places citizens’ “voice and control” at its centre and promises access to independent advocacy under certain circumstances.

 

The Act has also outlawed the notorious 15 minute visits to people needing support at home. And it introduces the concept of Citizen Directed Support, which aims to put disabled people and other service recipients firmly in the driving seat when decisions are made about their support and care.

 

Welsh Government has also just held a consultation on the recruitment and retention of domiciliary social support staff, which has a significant impact on the levels and quality of support for disabled people.

 

Whilst some local authorities may resist the new vision of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, the legislation, together with its codes of practice, do contain the levers to bring about genuine Independent Living in Wales. To make this happen we all need to continue working together co-productively.

 

With independent living now firmly on the policy agenda, there could hardly be a better time to research the subject. My hope is that the DRILL programme can produce both hard and soft evidence to support and accelerate the current direction of travel on making Independent Living a reality in policy and practice.

 

Vin has been a parent Carer for his youngest daughter for 32 years and is an inclusive design consultant. In addition to being a member of the DRILL Wales National Advisory group, Vin chairs his local Access Group, helped found the Gwynedd Direct Payments Forum in 1998, is a member of the Coalition on Charging Cymru, Co-Chair of the Wales Alliance for Citizen Directed Support, and has been appointed to a number of Ministerial Advisory Groups and Technical Groups.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  If you would like to find out more about the contents or the author please contact Paul Swann on paul.swann@disabilitywales.org

 


Byw’n Annibynnol yng Nghymru

 

Vin West, aelod o grŵp ymgynghorol DRILL Cymru

 

Mae’r ffordd mae llywodraeth yn trin y bobl ar rengoedd isaf cymdeithas yn adlewyrchu lefel ei gwareiddiad.

 

Wrth edrych ar y newyddion, mae’n glir ein bod yn wynebu cyfnod anodd. Mae “diwygiadau lles” Llywodraeth San Steffan, toriadau gwasanaethau cyhoeddus a pholisïau neo-ryddfrydol eraill wedi cael effaith enfawr ar fywydau pobl anabl.

 

Ar hyn o bryd mae Llywodraeth San Steffan yn destun archwiliad gan y Cenhedloedd Unedig am dorri hawliau dynol pobl anabl, a nodir yng nghonfensiwn hawliau pobl anabl y Cenhedloedd Unedig.

 

Yma yng Nghymru, rydym yn ffodus o gael llywodraeth sy’n deall y pwysau ar ei dinasyddion. Mae Llywodraeth Lafur Cymru wedi lliniaru rhai o effeithiau gwaethaf y toriadau, a hefyd wedi gosod fframwaith gweithredu byw’n annibynnol. Er nad yw hynny wedi arwain at welliannau gwirioneddol mewn bywydau pobl anabl hyd yma, mae’n sicr yn gam tua’r cyfeiriad iawn.

 

Ond er y pryderon mawr am y potensial effaith negyddol ar bobl anabl, mae Llywodraeth San Steffan wedi trosglwyddo cyllid ILF (independent living fund) i awdurdodau lleol yn Lloegr, a heb ddiogelu’r arian hwnnw. O ganlyniad, mae llawer o bobl ar ILF yn wynebu problemau mawr oherwydd gostyngiad yn yr arian maent yn derbyn.

 

Yn y Llys Apêl, cyfeiriodd Mrs Justice Andrews at “yr effeithiau negyddol anochel a sylweddol fydd yn deillio o gau’r gronfa, yn arbennig ar y bobl hynny fydd, o ganlyniad, yn colli’r gallu i fyw’n annibynnol”.

 

Yng Nghymru, trefnodd y gweinidog iechyd a gwasanaethau cymdeithasol, Mark Drakeford AC, ymgynghoriad i drafod sut orau i ddelio gyda chau cronfa ILF. Arweiniodd hynny at awgrymu cynnig opsiwn i sefydlu Cynllun Byw’n Annibynnol Cenedlaethol yng Nghymru, yn debyg i ILF yr Alban, y mae pob anabl yng Ngogledd Iwerddon hefyd yn gallu defnyddio.

 

Ond, trosglwyddwyd yr arian i awdurdodau lleol Cymru drwy Grant Byw’n Annibynnol Cymru gyda rhai amodau cysylltiedig, sef trefn wahanol i un Lloegr. Mae trafodaethau ar y gweill i gytuno trefn newydd pan ddaw’r grant i ben yn 2017.

 

Mabwysiadwyd y Model Anabledd Cymdeithasol gan Lywodraeth Cymru yn 2002. Er bod dal llawer i’w wneud i’w weithredu’n ymarferol, mae’r Model Cymdeithasol, y Fframwaith Gweithredu Byw’n annibynnol a Chonfensiwn Hawliau Pobl Anabl y Cenhedloedd Unedig gyda’i gilydd wedi cael dylanwad ar amodau Deddf Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol a Llesiant (Cymru).

 

Mae’r Ddeddf yn galw ar awdurdodau lleol i ganolbwyntio nid yn unig ar les dinasyddion mewn ystyr amwys, ond ar beth yw lles i’r unigolyn ei hun. Mae rhoi “llais a rheolaeth” yn nwylo dinasyddion yn ganolog i’r Ddeddf ac mae’n addo mynediad i wasanaethau eirioli annibynnol o dan rai amgylchiadau.

 

Yn ogystal, mae’r Ddeddf wedi gwahardd yr ymweliadau 15 munud gwarthus â phobl sydd angen cymorth yn eu cartref. Ac mae’n cyflwyno’r syniad o ‘Cymorth dan Arweiniad Dinasyddion’, gyda’r nod o alluogi pobl anabl ac eraill yn derbyn budd-daliadau i fod yn rhan o’r penderfyniadau am eu cymorth a gofal.

 

Ar ben hynny, mae Llywodraeth Cymru newydd gynnal ymgynghoriad ar recriwtio a chadw staff cymorth cartref, sy’n cael effaith sylweddol ar lefel ac ansawdd y cymorth bydd pobl anabl yn derbyn.

 

Efallai bydd rhai awdurdodau lleol yn gwrthod gweledigaeth newydd Deddf Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol a Llesiant (Cymru), ond mae’r ddeddfwriaeth, a’i chodau ymarfer, yn cynnwys mesurau i alluogi byw’n annibynnol gwirioneddol yng Nghymru. Bydd angen i bawb barhau i gydweithio’n effeithiol er gwireddu hynny.

 

Gyda byw’n annibynnol yn elfen gadarn o’r agenda polisi erbyn hyn, dyma’r amser gorau i ymchwilio’r mater. Rwy’n gobeithio bydd rhaglen DRILL yn gallu cynhyrchu tystiolaeth gadarn a meddal er mwyn cefnogi a chynyddu datblygiadau er gwireddu byw’n annibynnol ym meysydd polisi ac ymarferol.

 

Mae Vin wedi bod yn ofalwr ei ferch ieuengaf am 32 blynedd a hefyd yn gweithio fel ymgynghorwr cynllunio cynhwysol. Yn ogystal â bod yn aelod o grŵp ymgynghorol cenedlaethol DRILL Cymru, mae’n gadeirydd Grŵp Mynediad Arfon, helpodd i sefydlu Fforwm Taliadau Uniongyrchol Gwynedd yn 1998, mae’n aelod o Gynghrair Codi Tâl Cymru, yn gyd-gadeirydd Cynghrair Cymorth dan Arweiniad Dinasyddion Cymru, ac wedi’i benodi i wasanaethu ar nifer o grwpiau ymgynghorol a grwpiau technegol gweinidogol.
Vin West
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Grŵp Mynediad Arfon
01286 880761
07771 536760
Glyn Dŵr
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LL54 7RA
vinwest@icloud.com

 

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