One in five disabled people’s organisations in London faces closure in the next year because of cuts to their funding, according to a new report.
Inclusion London, which carried out the survey for its A Matter of Survival report, said the threatened closures “severely undermined” government policies on disability equality, including those on independent living and direct payments.
And they come at a time when demand for the services provided by user-led organisations is rising, because of government spending cuts.
Inclusion London surveyed 54 of the estimated 120 Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) in the capital, and 40 of those 54 said they had experienced cuts to their funding in 2011-12.
The survey found that 57 per cent expected further cuts next year, while the other 43 per cent still said more cuts could happen.
Half of those reporting cuts said their biggest funding reduction had come from their local authority.
The report says: “DDPOs are describing a ‘perfect storm’ of rising need and rising demand for their services by disabled people, at the very time of rapidly shrinking resources and cuts to DDPOs’ frontline services . A situation all DDPOs expect to worsen next year.”
And it warns that the situation “will only get worse as the full force of the welfare reforms and wider austerity measures kick in”.
A majority of those surveyed also reported a “significant deterioration or breakdown in communications” with their local authority.
There were also fears that the traditional campaigning role of DDPOs on behalf of disabled people was threatened by the rise of a “contract culture” within councils that viewed campaigning and advocacy as “being in conflict with providing services”.
The report calls for a new London-wide strategy on “advice, advocacy and representation”, which would also assess the full impact of the cuts on these services; a “strategic” approach to supporting DDPOs by local and central government over the next four years; and a new business support service for DDPOs across London; as well as an annual independent review for parliament on the full impact of the government’s welfare reforms on disabled people.
The report, which was funded by Trust for London, concludes: “Without local DDPOs providing independent, accessible information, advice, independent living services and peer support networks we believe the government’s policy of greater choice and control and personalisation of services for Deaf/disabled people will not be achieved.”
9 February 2012