Merged user-led disability charity ‘to have more clout’

A new super-charity led by disabled people will have more influence on policy and greater fundraising clout than its three predecessor organisations put together.

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A new super-charity led by disabled people will have more influence on policy and greater fundraising clout than its three predecessor organisations put together.

That was the message from Neil Coyle, who will be director of policy at Disability Rights UK, which launches on 1 January, bringing together the National Centre for Independent Living, Radar and Disability Alliance.

Coyle, currently director of policy at DA, said Disability Rights UK would be genuinely controlled by disabled people: at least 75% of the board will have experience of disability, and only disabled people or orgnanisations run by disabled people will be able to vote at its meetings.

He said the “aspiration” was for three-quarters of staff to be disabled.

The merger follows more than a year of negotiations. “There was an awareness that some of the work that we did was duplicating and that we have shared agendas, in particular across social care, welfare and human rights,” said Coyle. “Coming together will enable us to do more.”

The merger will cut costs including by moving from running three offices to one, but Coyle denied that any of the three bodies were struggling financially, despite the tough economic climate.

Instead, he said the move would boost incomes overall, including by enabling Disability Rights UK to employ a dedicated fundraising officer. “This will be a core role that none of us can afford to have at the moment,” Coyle added.

He said all existing services across the three organisations would be retained and that he was “confident” that most NCIL, Radar and DA staff would transfer to the new organisation.

Disability Rights UK will also consult its members – including 500 disabled people and 600 disabled people’s organisations – about developing new services.

Coyle said he expected to Disability Rights UK to increase the three charities’ collective influence on policy at a time when disabled people are being hit by cuts to benefits and social care.

“We will bring more to any policy-making and government discussions because we have a large membership base,” he said. “Having one place for the voice of disabled people will also be beneficial.”

Disability Rights UK will be headed by Radar chief executive Liz Sayce, who this year led a government review into specialist employment support for disabled people, whose recommendations were welcomed and have been consulted on by ministers.

It called for an end to government support for segregated employment, such as factories run by Remploy, so more resources could be ploughed into helping disabled people gain mainstream jobs.

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