Survey will shine spotlight on impact of cuts on London’s DPOs


New research aims to “make visible” the impact of the spending cuts on disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in London, and so help their fight for survival.

Inclusion London (IL) is appealing for the capital’s DPOs to take part in its survey in a bid to produce the first detailed evidence of how the cuts have affected their finances.

The results will be used to lobby politicians, funders and other decision-makers.

The call came as new figures published by the Disability LIB partnership showed a drop in the total income of 100 representative DPOs across England from £40 million in 2009 to £33 million in 2010.

Tracey Lazard, the new chief executive of IL, which was set up to support the capital’s DPOs, said she was not surprised by the figures, and added: “That was last year. This year and next year we expect the picture to be dramatically worse.”

She said IL was hearing “anecdotally” of some closures of DPOs but “a hell of a lot of cutbacks”, such as cuts to staff and services and other short-term “survival techniques”, while demand for their services was increasing.

She said: “The fear is that if DPOs have managed to survive this year – and most are – it is going to get a lot tougher next year. We need to make these cuts visible and help the fightback.”

She said it was crucial that DPOs “work together to raise awareness among funders and make visible the reality of cuts on the ground”.

Several trends were making it harder for DPOs to compete with larger organisations for contracts, she said.

Many DPOs were finding it difficult to cope with the trend for public sector bodies to seek tenders for bigger and bigger contracts, to provide “payment by results”, and for non user-led disability organisations to come from outside a DPO’s area and under-cut their bids.

Lazard said: “We need to get smarter about working in partnership to bid for work, maybe through new consortiums or coalitions, which will allow us to win bids.”

The results of the IL research will be presented at a conference on 21 October.

London-based DPOs can take part in the survey until 30 September. The survey should take just 10 minutes to complete and asks what funding cuts they have faced this year and what they expect next year, as well as what impact the cuts have had on their services and service-users.

IL will also be carrying out 16 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with leaders of DPOs.

7 September 2011