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Social Fund — Question (28 January 2014)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, some councils which have no statutory duty to provide local welfare might decide to close these schemes altogether. With the significant reduction in local authority funding, that is not unlikely. How will the Minister ensure that we do not end up with a postcode lottery for this lifeline support for the most vulnerable people in our society? They will not get the screaming...

Children and Families Bill — Report (3rd Day) (7 January 2014)

Baroness Wilkins: I thank the Minister very much for that very full reply. I must admit that I need to take it in more thoroughly and shall read it. I am glad to hear that the department has not ruled out inspection of local SEN support services in the Ofsted review and that that will be heard this summer. However, that will be after the Bill has completed its course. I thank all noble Lords who have taken...

Children and Families Bill — Report (3rd Day) (7 January 2014)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, this amendment is in my name and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe of Idlicote, and the noble Lord, Lord Low of Dalston. It would require an independent regulator to be appointed to scrutinise the provision of local authority services for children with SEN and their families. It is a further attempt to address the widespread concern about the lack of accountability in this Bill....

Children and Families Bill — Report (3rd Day) (7 January 2014)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I, too, add my support for the amendment. For this system to be truly joined up, all parts of the education, health and care plan need to be enforceable; otherwise, social care will be, as has been described, the poor cousin—the element within the EHC plan that will be considered to be of least importance. This is of concern to a wide range of children and young people with...

Children and Families Bill — Report (3rd Day) (7 January 2014)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I, too, support all the amendments in this group. If the Bill really is to improve the position of families of children with SEN in their struggle to give their children the best start in life then it must provide some certainty. Assurances of the provision which a local authority expects to be available are useless if they turn out to be just warm words. Parents need to know what...

Children and Families Bill — Report (2nd Day) (17 December 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Unfortunately, agreement has not continued from previous amendments. I thank all other noble Lords who contributed to this debate, but I find the Minister's reply extremely disappointing. He said that the local offer was not the place to put this information and that it would be cluttered up by it. But he then went on to enumerate various forms...

Children and Families Bill — Report (2nd Day) (17 December 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I hope that the Government will agree to this amendment. Clause 22 requires local authorities to identify children with special educational needs. This amendment would require the local authority to publish these data within its formal offer. I have tabled the amendment because I am concerned about the availability of good-quality data on children with SEN and disabilities. It is an...

Children and Families Bill — Report (2nd Day) (17 December 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I speak in strong support of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Low, which is set out so comprehensively and to which I added my name. If accepted, it will reassure those of us who are concerned that elements of Part 3 of the Bill could weaken the right of disabled children and young people with SEN to be included in mainstream education. Sadly, the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell...

Deaf People: Public Services — Question for Short Debate (24 October 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on securing today’s debate on the needs of deaf people in the provision of public services. Parliament is currently giving a flurry of attention to the needs of deaf people. Let us hope that this results in some strong, positive action and that it will achieve real gains. It is so vitally necessary. I am afraid it is...

Ageing: Public Services and Demographic Change Committee Report — Motion to Take Note (17 October 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Filkin on securing this debate and on his committee’s excellent report warning us that the Government and society are woefully unprepared for the ageing of the UK population. Like many fellow noble Lords, I am one of that cohort known as the baby boomers. However, we have not just arrived; we have been around a long time—long...

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (8th Day) (29 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: The noble Earl says that that transition funding has been taken into account. Can he also confirm that that is for beyond one year? Or is it only for that one year?

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (8th Day) (29 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I, too, speak in support of the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Warner. I have said before that I warmly support the principles behind the Bill and the modern framework that it provides for social care. However, there is a world of difference between principle and delivery, and many things determine that difference. Money is not everything, but the lack of it can mean...

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (7th Day) (22 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I strongly support the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, and the noble Lord, Lord Low. The noble Baroness has been very keen in pursuing these issues for the past five years and her tenacity has been outstanding. I am sure we all recognise that. She has argued comprehensively and excellently for these amendments. We all know that there is huge stress in moving home...

Care Bill [HL] — Committee (6th Day) (Continued) (16 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I speak to Amendment 92ZZSA, which stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton. The amendment seeks explicit clarification from the Government that nothing in the Bill lessens the strong duty on local authorities to offer direct payments to those requiring care and support services. A right to request direct payments is a welcome encouragement to those who...

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (6th Day) (16 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I strongly support this amendment. If the Government do not agree with the intention behind the amendment, it is clear that they accept, no doubt at the Treasury’s insistence, that the social care crisis should continue for years to come. As we have already heard, the social care system is currently failing to support four out of every 10 disabled people of working age to do...

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (6th Day) (16 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I strongly support this group of amendments. The consolidation of the care and support legislation into one Bill is very welcome but not if it lessens existing essential provision. As both noble Lords have clearly described, the initial assessment of someone’s needs is critical and must be carried out by someone who is appropriately qualified and understands the impact of the...

Dyslexia — Question (10 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: The noble Lord, Lord Addington, has been asking about apprenticeships and dyslexia for a very long time. Is it not time that real action was taken and something was done?

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (5th Day) (Continued) (9 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 88A. This amendment relates to Clause 9, which requires a local authority to carry out an assessment where an adult may have needs for care and support. The clause sets out things that the local authority must consider, for example the outcomes the person wants to achieve in their day-to-day life. There are similar provisions in Clause 10 in relation to a...

Care Bill [HL]: Committee (5th Day) (9 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I strongly support the amendments which have been so expertly described by the noble Lord, Lord Best, and to which I have added my name, as well as Amendment 87ZC in the name of my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. This is an important group of amendments. In combination, they will help to ensure that housing is at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds when providing...

Children and Families Bill — Second Reading (2 July 2013)

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I welcome the Government’s intention to reform the special educational needs system in England. However, I share the disability sector’s concerns, echoed by many noble Lords, that the Bill still requires major improvement if it is to deliver better outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. Worryingly, in some areas the Bill...

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