The responsibility and funding for the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) will be transferred to local authorities in 2018/19, the Welsh Government has announced.
The announcement, by Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health, confirmed that the WILG will continue in its current format in 2017-18 to enable local authorities to continue payments to recipients, but will transfer to local authorities from 2018-19 onwards. During this time local authorities will meet with recipients and their representatives to identify the outcomes they are seeking to achieve and agree a package of support to meet these. This aim is that by March 31, 2019 all recipients will have their support needs met through a package provided by their local authority.
While the UK Government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015, minister ensured continuity of support in the short-term for former recipients through the WILG with local authorities. This means the Welsh Assembly has been able to help disabled people meet the additional costs of living independently in the community, in the same manner and level they received from the ILF.
The Welsh Assembly has received a recurrent transfer of £27 million a year from UK Government to meet the cost of providing support to former ILF recipients. But the level leaves no scope to fund a change in people’s needs, for any changes in the cost of support they require or for operating any scheme to support them. Such costs would need to be top-sliced from this funding at the expense of care for all, noted Evans in a written statement.
Evans said officials have since met with stakeholder representatives to develop options for long-term support which take account of this and concluded that future support to former ILF recipients through normal social care provision from local authorities would be the most effective approach. “It addresses the issue of equality while making the best use of finite resources, ensuring it is used to provide support to recipients rather than used disproportionately towards start-up or operating costs of any separate arrangements,” she said.
"I recognise some recipients would have preferred a different decision. I also recognise this approach means existing arrangements will continue for a slightly longer period. This managed transition will, however, enable the approach to social care under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to be embedded within its provision by local authorities. The vast majority of recipients already receive a level of care and support from their local authority. The new arrangements will allow local authorities and recipients time to plan and agree support packages which adequately reflect the outcomes recipients are seeking to achieve and which put in arrangements to deliver these.
“This approach to introduce future support will allow recipients time over the transition period to agree and make suitable adjustments to prepare for them. They will only move into the new arrangements when the support they require is available. This could occur during the first year of transition, or in the second. Until then recipients will carry on receiving payments from their local authority until such time as their support package is available.
“Officials will notify recipients and local authorities of my decision and will work with stakeholder representatives on the detail of how the transition from the WILG to local authority support over this two-year period should occur. This will ensure that the new arrangements are in place for 1 April 2017.”