Councils’ grants decision puts DPO at risk


A disabled people’s organisation (DPO) which provides advice and information on accessible transport in London is set to lose its main source of funding just three months before the capital hosts the 2012 Paralympics.

Transport for All (TfA) is just one of the disability organisations set to lose funding after a decision to scrap large parts of a London-wide grants programme.

Faryal Velmi, director of TfA, said she was “very, very angry” about the decision by London Councils (LC), which was agreed by leaders of London’s 33 local authorities this week.

LC will fund far fewer services under the grants programme, set up more than 20 years ago to address “social issues of London-wide significance”.

Only schemes that can “reasonably” be delivered on a London-wide basis will now be funded. Other services will be left to local councils to support, with nearly all of these projects losing their LC funding by the end of June 2011.

Some London-wide services – including TfA – will also lose their chance of future grants when their funding runs out, because of a new slimmed-down list of funding priorities, which does not include transport.

The grants programme will be cut from £26.4 million to £18.48 million in 2011-12, and is set to plunge to just £8 million in 2012-13.

Disability Law Service (DLS) is another disability organisation set to lose out under the LC plans.

In June 2011, it will lose funding for a project that provides disabled people with legal representation to take discrimination cases, although a DLS health and social care project has survived the cull.

Linda Clarke, director of DLS, said the loss of the funding was “very disappointing news” and the charity would now have to “assess our options”.

Velmi warned that the money being clawed back from LC by local authorities was unlikely to be used to replace the lost grants because it was not ring-fenced.

TfA receives £100,000 a year from LC – the bulk of its funding – and provides advice, information and training to 5,000 disabled and older Londoners a year, has set up the first pan-London mobility forum, and feeds back the views of disabled Londoners to transport providers.

But unless it can source alternative funding, it could be forced to close in the summer of 2012, just three months before the accessible transport infrastructure will come under huge pressure when London hosts the Paralympics.

A London Councils spokeswoman said that, when deciding which areas to continue funding, members had focused on those areas “most likely to have a positive impact on equalities”, while individual boroughs would also take equality issues into account when deciding which services to continue funding.

16 December 2010

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