Vital funding used to enable disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in London to survive and thrive is set to be scrapped, after politicians over-ruled the expert advice of their own officials.
The grants committee of the umbrella organisation London Councils has recommended ending the “capacity-building” funding that helps the capital’s voluntary sector stay “strong, effective and sustainable”.
This will mean an end to London Councils funding for Power Up, which has provided specialist, accessible training and capacity-building to 90 disabled people’s organisations and nearly 200 other disability organisations since its launch in 2013, and through them to thousands of Deaf and disabled Londoners.
Its projects have built organisations’ fundraising, management and business skills through training, advice surgeries, networks and policy briefings on topics such as how to write funding bids, managing Deaf and disabled staff and using social media to build a brand.
The committee’s recommendation comes at a time when DPOs across the country have faced years of funding cuts, while disabled people have had to cope with repeated cuts to their services as a result of central government-imposed austerity.
Inclusion London’s chief executive, Tracey Lazard, said that losing the funding would be “a massive blow” to both organisations.
Now Inclusion London and Transport for All – backed by organisations that have benefited from their training – have written to council leaders asking them to overturn the grants committee’s decision when they meet on 8 December.
They say that London Councils officers – and a consultation this autumn – concluded that funding for specialist capacity-building support for equalities organisations should continue to be funded.
In the consultation, 165 respondents said that supporting capacity-building in the voluntary sector was very important, 13 said it was important, 25 said it was quite important, and just 10 said it was not important.
Inclusion London and Transport for All say in the letter: “Our sector continues to need training and support that is accessible for Deaf and Disabled people and tailored to our needs. The Power Up project does this.
“It provides us with training and support that we cannot find anywhere else: it’s not available from mainstream infrastructure providers, it’s not provided at a local level and it would be too expensive for us to buy-in on our own.”
They say Power Up has helped improve management, fundraising, communications and business skills among DPOs, and has created opportunities for them to work together, and learn about key policy and funding issues.
A London Councils spokesman said: “On November 18, following a public consultation, members of London Councils’ grants committee made a recommendation that ‘while not without merit, given current financial constraints, there is unlikely to be a strong enough case for continuing a programme on capacity building in the voluntary sector’ beyond April 2017.
“London Councils’ leaders committee will consider this recommendation on December 8.”