Strong backing for pan-London funding appeals


User-led groups across London are hoping to convince local authorities to continue funding two vital areas of support for disabled people and their organisations.

London Councils – the umbrella organisation for the capital’s local authorities – has just finished a consultation on which areas it will continue to fund through its grants programme. Decisions are due in May.

Last week, service-users, staff, trustees and supporters of Transport for All handed in their response, backed by more than 60 organisations, many of them user-led groups. They want London Councils to continue funding support for accessible transport.

TfA points to the need for services that support disabled and older people to access transport as London prepares to host the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

TfA’s funding from London Councils is due to end this September, just as the Paralympics draws to a close.

London Councils has been funding TfA since 2008 to provide information, advice and advocacy services to disabled and older people, and to support London’s 25 community transport schemes.

A separate response to the consultation, from Inclusion London, and backed by about 50 organisations and leading disabled activists, calls on London Councils to continue to fund schemes that support the capital’s Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs).

Inclusion London is the only organisation funded by London Councils to strengthen the capital’s DDPOs and support them to influence policy and speak out on Deaf and disability equality issues.

It was London Councils funding four years ago that enabled Inclusion London to be set up. This funding is also set to end in September.

Inclusion London says in its submission that its support is needed “now more than ever” because of the “perfect storm” facing the capital’s DDPOs.

It points to huge cuts to benefits, social care support and legal aid, and rising disability hate crime, leading to growing demand for advice and support, while “massive cuts” to funding mean one in five London DDPOs faces closure over the coming year.

Last year, a judge told London Councils to rethink plans to slash spending on its grants programme because it had failed to assess properly how the cuts would affect disabled people and other minority groups.

The plans included slimming down its funding priorities, with accessible transport one of those areas to be dropped.

London Councils has now carried out a fresh consultation on which areas it should fund, but the grants budget has already plunged from £20.8 million in 2011-12 to £12.5 million in 2012-13, and is likely to fall again to about £8 million in 2013-14.

Faryal Velmi, director of TfA, said she was more hopeful than she was before last year’s court ruling.

She said: “They are starting from scratch. Everything is up in the air. We do stand a good chance because we put in quite a strong submission.

“The number of organisations that have signed our submission reflects the wide support for the work that we do.”

29 March 2012