The case for disabled people wanting to maintain their independent living was raised in the Senedd today (Tuesday, March 6) with questions to First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The Welsh Independent Living Grant is due to come to an end next year and responsibility for ensuring disabled people can live independently will be transferred to local councils.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, asked: “Disabled people have told me that they appreciate their independence more than the money provided by the current Welsh Independent Living Grant. What assurances can you give them that this independence will continue when the WILG comes to an end?”
Mr Jones responded by saying that his government would monitor the actions of local government and individuals would be assessed to provide assurances.
Mr Gruffydd said he was disappointed that the First Minister did not appreciate the importance of disabled people having choice and control over their own lives, something that the WILG helped ensure: “I’m afraid I have little faith that the transition to councils that are already stretched to the limit in so many ways will work smoothly. The First Minister said time and again that his government would monitor the transition, but evidence from London shows that a similar transition has been disastrous and they should heed that evidence.
“In Scotland and Northern Ireland they’ve maintained the fund and the independence that it allows, which has been a success. I question why this Labour Government is putting people in Wales through that uncertainty and pain when we have a model we could emulate in Scotland?”
A determined campaign has been run to save the WILG by author and journalist Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham. He said: “I would like to thank Llyr Gruffydd AM for raising the issue of the Welsh Independent Living Grant at the Senedd. Without WILG my independence would be severely curtailed and I would be totally reliant on my penny-pinching local authority, which has already threatened a severe reduction of my care and support should the grant close.
“It is important that disabled people are able to live their lives independently so that they can continue to contribute to their local communities.”