Monday, 19 November 2007

Welsh Government Package for Disabled Children

Miss Wagstaff hears that there has been a call for the Assembly to cough up the 'consequential' in response to a massive investment in disabled children in England.

It is feared the £21m – Wales’ share of a £340m UK government package for disabled children – has been swallowed up by the general health, social services and education budgets, already struggling under the strain of a tight financial settlement.

In England this money will be used to fund short breaks for disabled children, provide childcare and support, and help disabled children shape the services they need.

The equivalent funding for Wales, known as a consequential, amounts to £21m. But the money is not ring-fenced and the Assembly Government is under no obligation to spend the money in the same area as England – in this case, on disabled children.

Labour AM Lynne Neagle has managed to get herself on the front page of today's Western Mail, along with a few high profile children's charities. She has called for the Assembly to cough up the money and put us on par with England.

Wayne Crocker, from Mencap Cymru, said:

Without real money to help them do this they will continue to be left at the bottom of the box and live lives limited by the type of poor opportunities given to them in today’s Wales.
The Plaid Cymru/ Labour coalition are saying "NO", which shouldn't be a big surprise after the recent budget announcement. Of particular interest, however, is Lynne Neagle's Statement of Opinion calling for the cash to be forthcoming. The Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Liberal Democrats have all signed up, and every Welsh Labour backbencher, bar one, has signed as well. However, as of Monday morning, only one Plaid Cymru AM, Leanne Wood, has signed.

How come? It has been explained to me that Helen Mary Jones might be trying to enforce a 'three line whip' (drastic measure) against signing the Statement of Opinion on the basis that... wait for it... it would mean the One Wales Government doing the same as they are doing in England!

This doesn't look good for disabled children in Wales, and all for the sake of Plaid keeping their political purity. As an aside, any idea who the only Labour backbencher not to sign is? Step forward former Plaid politician and now Labour AM, Alun Davies. Maybe he's trying to tell us something.

Update: 21 November 2007 at 11:30

The following was received from a reliable Plaid Cymru source.

This is Leanne Wood and Helen Mary Jones' amendment to the statement of opinion by Lynne Neagle. Worth adding to your blog discussion I should think.

This Assembly notes the evidence from the Children's NSF SAAT Report 06/07, showing that services for disabled children and their families are consistently the weakest area of service delivery across Wales.This Assembly therefore calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to reaffirm its commitment to fully implementing and funding both the NSF and the recommendations of the Equality of Opportunity committee report on services for young disabled people and to ring fence funding and make it clearly traceable through the Assembly government budget.


Anonymous 19 November 2007 at 21:20  

The Western Mail have really got it in for the Welsh Assembly Government.

Anonymous 19 November 2007 at 21:54  

this is all about lynne neagle trying to topple the one wales goverment. sh e has no interest in disabled children whatsoever! she didn't turn up to the launch of the campaign, and hasn't been invovled until now. Politics at its lowest form. I wouldn't expect any less from one of the Penarth AM's.

Art 19 November 2007 at 23:13  

It'll be difficult to find anyne who really wants the OWG to succeed outside Plaid as they are the only ones with anything to gain long term.

Anonymous 19 November 2007 at 23:30  

Whose to say that the English have got it right, they usually get it wrong.

No doubt this cash will be spent on the same or equally deserving cases. Dirty politics from the Kinnockites, about the only politics they know.

And lets remember the WM's end of term report:

"Lynne Neagle, Torfaen, Labour
Comment: Consistently fails to impress
Marks out of 10: 3"

Anonymous 19 November 2007 at 23:41  

I don't think this article is about Lynne Neagle AM

Lucy Sheppard 20 November 2007 at 10:25  

Of course! It's all The Western Mail's fault, aided and abetted by Lynne Neagle, that WAG are shafting Welsh disabled kids. And as for those pesky disabled charioties - they must be in league with the evil Brit Nats too.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Next time you set about a hefty astrosturfing session, Mr Bellin, how about you sign in instead of posting anonymously?

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 10:34  

What the hell? Plaid would be going absolutely nuts on this if they weren't in government! In fact they did used to go nuts on these issues before government - how can you say this is low politics? Shouldn't expect any different from Andrew Thomas Nutt(er).

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 10:45  

Yet another ridiculous bit of manoeuvring by the 'One Wales' government, surely it's taking the whole devolution thing too far if it means disadvantaging disabled children just so that the nationalist element in the government feels good about itself because its not following England’s lead.
There are disabled children who are missing out on money which was basically specifically allocated to help them out - but just because they were born in Wales rather than England, they're not getting it!!! How fair is that?
To the Welsh Assembly Government - certainly try to break away from England where necessary and when it’s best for Wales - but don't just do it for the sake of it. No money for disabled children isn't good for Wales, no matter how strong the nationalist-spectacles your looking through.

Maxx 20 November 2007 at 10:57  

So WAG shaft the disabled out of £20 million, and all the Plaid support staff trolls can do is dredge up Martin Shipton's 'scores', written from his pie-filled bunker in deepest pontcanna. Says it all, really.

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 11:20  

“this is all about lynne neagle trying to topple the one wales goverment. sh e has no interest in disabled children whatsoever!”
Oh of course, someone who clearly isn’t a raving nationalist couldn’t possibly be interested in disabled children – it must be a huge conspiracy theory just in order to topple the One Wales government. I mean, disabled children – who would actually care about them?!
Well Mr Anonymous – did you ever stop to think that perhaps Lynne Neagle just recognises that disabled children are a pretty good cause to fight for, not a way of gaining political support or gaining political ends. That money was allocated by the British Government for disabled children to try and improve their standard of living (of course, I expect you think this was all some kind of conspiracy to topple the One Wales government as well!), to expect that money to be spent on the same thing in Wales as it was allocated for in Britain actually seems pretty reasonable to me.
Just because you’re only interested in political gain – it doesn’t mean that everyone is. I like to think that some AM’s are actually interested in important issues, whether it be disabled children, the trafficking of women or any other issue. Lynne Neagle seems to be one of the few decent AM’s who stand up for what they believe – rather than what is politically advantageous, and I applaud her – I agree – disabled children are a fantastic issue to raise and try and support. Good Luck Lynne Neagle I hope you get that £21 Million.

Martin 20 November 2007 at 11:28  

Is it true that your Anon contributor of 21.20 used to be the Political Correspondent of the Sunday Sport?
His (or her)comments would be laughable if this subject were not so important to the lives of disabled children and their families.
Equally deplorable are the gutter comments of Art.. "No doubt this cash will be spent on equally deserving cases." I'm sure you could find a more deserving target for spending £21m. Just think how many bilingual road signs you could get for that much money!

Paul 20 November 2007 at 11:37  

It’s so nice to see that we have AM’s such as Helen Mary Jones representing us. She seems to epitomise the kind, considerate AM that everyone would want. Unless of course you happen to be a disabled child living in Wales. In that case she’s not likely to be on your Christmas card list. Taking out a three line whip against people signing a form in support of money for disabled children does make her look a little bit like the big bad wolf in this story. She’s not really encouraging a friendly view of the Plaid group or the One Wales government for that matter. Well, no more than I expected to be honest.

J Stitfall 20 November 2007 at 11:51  

MENCAP CYMRU have been a huge help with advice on how to get the best assistance with my son. As a single mum with a disabled son, I know first hand that there is simply not enough money spent to help families like mine by the government. Politics has no place in this debate this is real people we are talking about. Im sure that come the next election though that people will put their crosses next to those who called for this money to be spent and avoid those who shied away. Disabled children in Wales need the support of politicians and the public alike. I just don;t understand how anyone can begrrudge us this money.

Rachel 20 November 2007 at 12:08  

I can’t believe that such a massive deal is being made about someone recognising the fact that disabled children aren’t getting enough financial support. I thought the use of three-line whips were for extremely important (not that disabled children aren’t important just not in the same context to the WAG) issues which were make or break for the Government. Perhaps the furore that is occurring is due to the fact that there are a lot more problems with the budget than the government is letting on – why else would there be such a commotion? It seems to me that the Government has made a complete and utter mess of the budget and are now running scared in case anyone brings any attention to it and unearths the can of worms which is lying beneath the surface.

David Heath 20 November 2007 at 12:10  

I can't decide if the comments above about this campaign being about "toppling" one Wales, or "low politics" are genuinely evil or just stupid.

Frankly I've never come across a more base and moronic argument in my life, and given that I DO know who attended the launch I have a very good idea which Plaid AM's office this is coming out of.

Given the lack of experience of said AM, I point them to the Assembly record pre "One Wales", where Ms Neagle was one of the few Labour backbenchers prepared to stand up to the government on Children's issues.

David Heath 20 November 2007 at 12:14  

Sorry, and I should have added - more power to Leanne Wood's elbow. What do you say "Anon"? Do you think she is trying to bring down "one wales" too? She is also a principled politician who will back what she thinks right no matter what the party line is.

freddie starr 20 November 2007 at 12:22  

As serious as this issue clearly is (and for what it's worth I couldn't give a toss how it happens, just give the poor sods the cash), but no one has yet taken the time to take the piss out of Alun Davies! This will not do.

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 12:36  

I am staggered that a campaign to ensure £21million of much needed cash for disabled children gets to where it is most needed is being hijacked because of some outdated and frankly unjustified fear of following the same policy line as England.

Children’s disability issues are not in the same political bracket as matters like school closures, they don't have great armies of middle-class flag-wavers undertaking sharp media-savvy campaigns to get their concerns moved up the agenda. Consequently when the funding cake comes to be cut they so often find themselves excluded and left out in the cold.

Well done Ed Balls for recognising this and doing something about it... that's what a Labour Government is for - helping people who haven't the voice to help themselves.

Good on Lynne Neagle for trying to ensure we do the same and take a grown up approach to devolution!

daf 20 November 2007 at 13:40  

I have no problem with money to disabled kids. From which part of the health budget (or any other budget for that matter) would we wish to see £21million being taken?

If the Assembly Govt had to spend money in exactly the same proportions as Westminster, and on exactly the same things what would be the point of devolution? (Cue anti-devolution comments)

The Assembly can slice the pie up in different ways, it can't make the pie bigger (the last bloke who had those talents did it with loaves and fishes and I don't think our AMs are that gifted!)

If we want to match spending in England pro-rata, would we accept the much lower pre-capita spending on health (overall) for example?

It's not good enough to say "we can't possibly do the same as England, we have to do it differently" (although I suspect that HMJ's argument is a little more nuanced than that). Neither is it good enough to say "this is happening in England, we must have the same" (I guess LN's position is
not that simplistic either)

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 15:45  

Alun Davies has now signed the statement of opinion.

Alun Davies' Y-Fronts 20 November 2007 at 16:27  

"Anonymous said...
Alun Davies has now signed the statement of opinion.

20 November 2007 15:45"

Another result, Miss Wagstaff! You are fast developing into a 'must-read' for AMs, clearly!

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 17:24  

Labour's Kinnockite wing using disabled kids to beat the Government ... point scoring that's all their good for. Love it when I get mistaken for someone else ... I'm just a member of the public, a voter with no political favourites ... I just despise dirty politicos who use an issue like this for their own ends.

Oh and Lynne Neagle, bottom of the class like most of the Kinnock clowns.

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 17:31  

"I'm just a member of the public, a voter with no political favourites"

Pull the other one, its got £21million in change resting on it.

There is literally nobody in the world who goes on about Kinnockites and Kinnock this and that, apart from about 13 Aberystwyth educated nats. Maximum.

There's also no-one else in the world would oppose a good campaign for a good cause because it might upset a government. Isn't that what backbenchers are for?

Timmo 20 November 2007 at 17:31  

Anon 17.24: Beneath contempt. Really.

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 17:44  

So, Mr Anonymous, thats all disabled children are to you, are they? Well, thats lovely to know, but to some people they are actually important.
Disabled children matter, England has noticed this, and just because you're so blind to the idea that England could ever come up with a good policy that would also suit Wales, doesn't mean that asking for money to help disabled children is a point scoring exercise.
Some of us, Mr Anonymous, got over the whole point-scoring thing when we left primary school. Maybe you should go back there - you might get over it and also learn some manners. Yours clearly need improving!

Miss Wagstaff 20 November 2007 at 18:37  

"Alun Davies' Y-Fronts said...
"Anonymous said... Alun Davies has now signed the statement of opinion. at 15:45"

"Another result, Miss Wagstaff! You are fast developing into a 'must-read' for AMs, clearly! at 16:27"

I doubt if I or the comments made this happen, but suppose every little helps. Well done 'Opposition' and backbenchers!

This post has certainly sparked off the most exciting of debates and shared opinion on this blog.

Keep it up as it's much appreciated. x

Anonymous 20 November 2007 at 22:05  

There seems to be such an interest in children and disability at the moment. I wonder now may of the list of anonnys have ever even thought about it before. May be you ought to check out Lynne Neagle's previous jobs, you can see she has.
This should not be a political football. I should be a case for action and support.
Try using your energy positively boys
And no I am not a Labour Party member or a Plaid supporter

Anonymous 21 November 2007 at 10:33  

isnt it 21million pounds over 3 years? isnt that less than a million pounds for each authority? surely this is just piss and wind from Neagle. i am a floating voter and while Labour have some great AMs I find her ineffective, unlikeable and definately on a par with Irene James.

Anonymous 21 November 2007 at 10:37  

i heard in 1999 when Neagle was canvassing one of her constituents-to-be he made her burst into tears and he was a Labour member. She is an embarressment to Wales and i would love to see her fight a seat where the electorate arent so one eyed and there is actually a contest. Maybe she should fight for the seat she lives in!!

Robbie Clifton 21 November 2007 at 11:06  

Breakfast is over in the Assembly canteen, and the Nat trolls are out in force!

I'm sure the disbaled kids, charities and AMs of all parties who signed the Statement of Opinion will be delighted by your contributions.

And anon 10.37 - how about having the courage to put a name to comments about the "one eyed" people of Torfaen? Idiot.

David Heath 21 November 2007 at 11:17  

I continue to be absolutely flabbergasted by the comments of these anons. Resorting to personal attacks because a backbencher is trying to secure money for a good cause? I just can't fathom where you are coming from.

So £21million is too little? So if she was campaigning £100million she would be in the right? Would your Plaid employers back her campaign then?

Frankly I think that the Torfaen AM is the only backbencher from either the Labour Party or Plaid Cymru who has upped their game to match the new powers. Aside from the Tories, she is keeping the government to account single handedly at the moment. I see her comments lead the Western Mail coverage again today.

But to get back to the case in point, I think it really shows up people in a terrible light that they should want to resort to name-calling ahead of trying to secure a better deal for disabled kids. It reminds me of the Tories who used to wear Hang Mandella t-shirts.

Paul 21 November 2007 at 12:04  

Good to see former Plaid whipping boy, now fully paid-up staffer, Andrew Thomas Nutt posting his usual anonymous poison. You can spot Nutt's comments a mile off, filled as they are with (a) amusing spelling (b)obsessions with half-truths and innuendo and (c) a total refusal to talk about any issue of substance.

Miss Wagstaff 21 November 2007 at 13:19  

There's now an update to this post.

Anonymous 21 November 2007 at 13:44  

Reading over the 30 or so blogs that have been published on this site I am quite surprised and a little disturbed by the personal attacks against Lynne Neagle. It seems like everyone who supports the money being given to disabled children is relatively normal and sane in comparison to those who disagree with the money being given to disabled children (by-the-by, it seems a little odd to be against disabled children to me, - they are so troublesomme and generally nasty afterall!). These disabled children-haters seem to have no argument other than they don't like Lynne Neagle, she's using this all for political gain (because we've seen her getting so much of that from it so far) and some mumbled garbage about her being made to cry. So, to all of those people who seem to oppose the money being given to the disabled children - have you actually got any reason, other than Lynne Neagle suggested it? Because rather than personal attacks it might be nice to actually hear some genuine reasons you don't want to give any money to disabled children!

Maxx 21 November 2007 at 13:44  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miss Wagstaff 21 November 2007 at 13:47  

Sorry Maxx, had to remove your comment this time round due to the 'F' word.

Maxx 21 November 2007 at 14:01  

Fair play. Amended below...

No mention of the money ion the Plaid amendment, therefore making it easy for Hart to fob the kids off with a bit of loose change. All in all, a waste of blinking time.

Anonymous 21 November 2007 at 14:33  

The bile on both sides of this argument is incredible. I have no great affection for Lynne Neagle as an AM, but the suggestion that her intervention is an attempt to bring down the WAG is ludicrous. Equally as ludicrous is the claim that somehow PC are against spending money on disabled children. Any one with a passing interest in Dafydd Wigley’s work, for instance, knows of his commitment their cause.

Many contributors thus far appear to be under the impression that this money has already been spent or allocated to other causes. This is quite simply not the case, as this year’s budget is yet to be finalised. Lynne Neagle’s justifiable intervention is, as in the case of the health researchers’ intervention, an attempt to make sure that the money is used as intended. As the WM article states: “the money is not ring-fenced and the Assembly Government is under no obligation to spend the money in the same area as England.” Despite the lack of obligation, here’s hoping that they do spend it along simillar lines.

A Non 21 November 2007 at 15:17  

A sensible anonymous comment. Whatever next?

Miss Wagstaff 21 November 2007 at 17:03  

"A Non said... A sensible anonymous comment. Whatever next?"

That made me smile on a busy Wednesday afternoon.

Anonymous 22 November 2007 at 10:30  

let's not forgot that this started off as an attempt to smear Helen Mary Jones

Maxx 22 November 2007 at 10:44  

Er, no it didn't. It started off as an attempt to get WAG to cough up the money for disabled kids. HMJ is more than capable of smearing herself. Which is, admittedly, not a nice image to have in your head this early.

Anonymous 22 November 2007 at 11:03  

I see that Plaid have tabled an ammendment to the Statement of Opinion, which is both a little sad and less effective in its wording, but if means it will get all their AMs behind the campaign then its probably a necessary evil.

Now it remains to be seen if Andrew Davies will go looking for the money.

Anonymous 22 November 2007 at 11:08  

He should do otherwise he may upset the apple-cart.

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