The Big Lottery Fund has awarded £4.2m to a coalition of disability charities to boost disabled people-led organisations, which have come under increasing threat in recent years.
The money will go to Scope and six disabled people’s organisations (DPOs): Disability Awareness in Action, People First, United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council, Equalities National Council, Alliance for Inclusive Education and Preston Disability Information Services Centre.
The coalition – known as Disability LIB (Listen, Include, Build) – will seek to build management and organisational systems in 200 other DPOs. Scope said many DPOs were being forced to close down or were barely surviving because of difficulties obtaining funding. It also said their capacity-building needs were not addressed by the mainstream voluntary sector.
Rachel Hurst, director of Disability Awareness in Action, said: “We have a real opportunity to strengthen the voice and activities of disabled people. We are all determined to use that opportunity to the full.”
UKDPC and the National Centre for Independent Living said last August that local user-led organistions were losing out on contracts to provide direct payment support services to national organisations or in-house council services run by non-disabled people.
However, the government remains committed to a 2005 proposal from the prime minister’s strategy unit to have a user-led organisation in place in every council area, based on existing centres for independent living. Last year, the Department of Health launched a user-led organisation development fund to build capacity in the sector, in order to meet the pledge.