The disability rights agenda: too narrow, possibly lost, or both?

I fear we’re in danger of the disability rights agenda being too narrow, possibly lost, or even both.

I say this because of the following 8 impressions, which are by no means comprehensive:

  1. The emerging Green Paper from the Department of Health seems to be focused primarily on people with learning disabilities or autism [1]
  2. A related blogpost (which happens to be from my employer) calls for a progressive learning disability agenda across the sector and society that values “rights, independence, choice and inclusion for ALL people with learning disabilities” [my emphasis]
  3. Preserving the Independent Living Fund is presumed to be the same as preserving independent living, when I suspect in practice campaigning attempts will (if successful) preserve funding levels around individuals specifically related to care and support
  4. Welfare reforms and resulting campaigns have focused on specific issues like the Work Capability Assessment and who provides the assessment service, or the Bedroom Tax – both largely from a deficit-based, medical model perspective). There has been comparatively little focus on employment support for disabled people or what housing options are available
  5. There has been very little broad campaigning action beyond those interested in higher education on the proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance
  6. Lobbying and campaigning regarding the Children & Families Act has been largely confined to children’s charities and SEN-related organisations, and doesn’t seem to have reached the broader disabled people’s movement
  7. Disability hate crime appears to have dropped off the agenda
  8. Anything relating to “people with mental health problems” largely remains a separate consideration to issues regarding “disabled people”.

There are some brighter spots, of course: the Care Act (albeit “only” in the sphere of social care) and positive attempts to mobilise the “disability vote” are two.

But, whilst there are arguments which could be made for each of the things listed above being separately needed, to my mind there is no overarching framework within which all of them hang together. There is no agenda around which all people with a commitment to disability rights and equality for all disabled people can coalesce.

In this context, the apparent disappearance of the Office for Disability Issues, the most recent, relatively lacklustre attempt at any sort of disability policy agenda (Fulfilling Potential), and the loss of whatever momentum there was from the Paralympic Games, are all major causes for concern. Irrespective of how effective they were, they represented the last political, policy and institutional bases of the disability rights agenda.

What to do? Clearly, we need to wrestle back a disability rights agenda into the political sphere. There are at least two active suggestions as to how this can be done:

  1. Establish a Disability Rights Taskforce after the next general election
  2. We should consider disbanding the Department for Work & Pensions and shift to an approach that works on a themed basis that more specifically has responsibility for a wide-ranging disability rights agenda, e.g. a Department for Inclusion.


[1] – I haven’t included any reference to the LB Bill because I believe its intention is for it to apply to all disabled people, not just to people with learning disabilities.


Should the DWP be disbanded? (Updated)

The institutions central to the operations of the political economy should not be seen as entities that are created at one point in time and can then be assumed to operative effectively afterwards… the operative force of many institutions cannot be taken for granted

– from Peter Hall and David Soskice, An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was created in 2001. We should ask whether now is the time to disband it.

I ask this as a question of long-term policy and the administration of a significant part of Britain’s political economy (or “state”), rather than a short-term campaigning question designed to score political points. However, it would have the political advantage for whoever achieves power in 2015 of drawing some sort of line under what have proven to be poorly motivated and poorly executed welfare reforms since 2010.

To explore my question, below I outline why department organisation is important for the political economy, some history of the DWP, what the current DWP looks like, and then some top-level thoughts on what might be done with the current responsibilities of the DWP.

My motivation in the post that follows is rooted in an interest primarily in equality of opportunity for disabled people and what a future disability rights agenda might look like (spurred on by Neil Crowther’s thoughts), though it inevitably covers a wide range of areas relevant to DWP’s current remit.

At this stage I’m just musing on the initial question, in the hope others who (a) know more, and (b) think better, will think about, comment on and develop the question and answer.

Why are government departments and their reorganisation important?

First, a very brief bit about why the set up of government departments is important. (I appreciate that most readers will find something better to do at this point and stop reading.)

How governments are set up is vitally important to how the political economy works. The way they are organised reflects the direction of the public sector as a whole, since they sit atop a vast array of government agencies. The people who sit atop the departments – Ministers – are also Secretaries of State, and so have seats at Cabinet and its associated subcommittees.

As the Institute for Government (IfG) highlights [1]:

Departments are the key bridge between the core executive of Prime Minister, Cabinet, Treasury and other core departments and committees on the one hand and the ‘front-line’, delivery-level public sector agencies on the other.

It tends to happen in the wake of elections, but departments often get reorganised – see these lovely timelines of government department reorganisations highlighted by Public Strategist.)

Changes to the “machinery of government” is in the hands of the Prime Minister, and the IfG notes three factors that influence Prime Ministerial decision making on departmental reorganisation:

  1. External change – new demands and priorities for the government to grapple with
  2. Administrative challenges – based on the performance of existing departments and administrative arrangements
  3. Political considerations.

Though the IfG notes that machinery of government changes are best when factors 1 and 2 are the main drivers, senior civil servants who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt say

the vast majority of departmental reorganisations occur primarily as a response to political pressures at Cabinet level, including both the need to create jobs to satisfy a particularly valuable member of Cabinet as well as the need to contain the size of Cabinet – with policy and delivery requirements taking second priority.

Furthermore, “pressure from stakeholders or media criticisms rarely feature in officials’ lists of political influences”.

DWP’s history

Political factors were a major component of Tony Blair’s thinking when he created the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2001.

Up until 1988, the government department most like the DWP was the Department of Health & Social Security (DHSS). This was split into the Department of Health and the Department for Social Security (DSS) respectively, until the DSS itself changed to become the DWP in 2001, taking on responsibility for employment (including policy) from the old Department for Education & Employment.

The main reasons for the creation of the DWP was to bring together two considerable parts of the state: social security for non-working people of all ages; and employment services and benefits for people of working age. From its very start, the DWP was set up to bring closer the relationship between work and benefits.

But it may never have been the DWP that was the sponsoring department of this close relationship. A series of dedicated working parties resulted in a recommendation from senior civil servants that the responsible department should be the Department for Education & Employment, enabling the relationship between education and employment – as well as skills and so the future economy’s workforce – to continue.

In the end, however, political considerations outweighed the policy potential (the first DWP Secretary of State was Alistair Darling) and Blair decided instead to create the DWP (a re-worked DSS) to take on employment and working-age benefits responsibilities, along with two other elements: administering benefits for (1) older people and (2) disabled people.

Despite the political fudge, senior civil servants rated the creation of the DWP the most successful departmental change in the 30 years since 2009, primarily because of the administrative sense in linking benefits to job seeking and the wider link with pensions. “Success” in this context, though, should probably be qualified: the IfG estimates that the creation of the DWP cost £175m (though only 3% of the associated budget) and there have been nine Secretaries of State between 2002-2013.

Where does this leave us with DWP?

DWP as it is now is a complicated beast, as its annual report for 2012/13 shows (pdf). It is the biggest public service delivery department in the UK, serving over 22 million people and paying £166 billion in benefits and pensions.

Using tables on relevant expenditure for 2013/14 from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (pdf) [2] we see that the DWP administers the following [3]:

For people over retirement age:

Area of spend Total spend
State pension + additional state pension + pension credit £63.4bn + £18.8bn + £7.3bn = £89.5bn
Attendance Allowance / Disability Living Allowance £10.5bn
Housing Benefit £6.4bn
Winter Fuel + TV licenses £2.8bn
Other £1.9bn
Total £111.0bn

For people of working age:

Area of spend Total spend
Out of work benefits: ESA + JSA + Income Support + Incapacity Benefit £9.2bn + £5.7bn + £3.0bn + £0.9bn = £18.8bn
Disability (DLA/PIP + Severe Disablement Allowance + Carers’ Allowance) £9.1bn + £0.7bn + £2.0bn = £11.8bn
Housing Benefit £17.1bn
Child Benefit £10.4bn
Maternity pay £2.4bn
Other £2.0bn
Total £62.4bn

This gives us a total expenditure for DWP in 2013/14 of  £173.4bn.

Look what happens, though, if we re-arrange this spending. What we then have is the following, for all ages:

Area of spend Total spend (£ / % of spend)
Pensions £89.5bn (52%)
Housing Benefit £6.4bn + £17.1bn = £23.5bn (14%)
Disability benefits £10.5bn + £11.8bn = £22.3bn (13%)
Out of work benefits £18.8bn (11%)
Child & Maternity benefits £10.4bn + £2.4bn = £12.8bn (7%)
Other £1.9bn + £2.0bn = £3.9bn (2%)
Winter Fuel Payment + TV licenses £2.8bn (2%)

These numbers suggest to me that the question of whether to disband the DWP is worth asking.

More than this, though, there are major reasons that suggest to me the question of whether to disband the DWP is also worth answering.

By the time 2015 arrives, and some 14 years after it was created, we have to consider the possibility that the DWP is no longer able to support government in meeting its long-term policy and administrative goals.

I suggest this for three reasons.

The first and most important reason is that DWP does not seem to be able to respond to the new demands and priorities placed on it by external change. This includes in key areas of its remit such as employment, housing or disability, and especially where these issues intersect. Policy in these areas has been stagnant or unimaginative for some while now.

The second reason is the administrative challenges the DWP isn’t rising to. The administrative failures of the £3bn-£5bn Work Programme (quite aside from the policy failures) are well documented, as are those associated with the £540m-worth of contracts with Atos and Capita for the new Personal Independent Payment. Then there’s Universal Credit, on which the Public Accounts Committee believes a substantial part of the spend on IT so far – some £303m – will have to be written off.

The third reason is that, politically, the DWP – with its nine Secretaries of State in 11 years, the significant and broadening chasm between political rhetoric and policy reality, and its administrative problems – is an issue.

If we look back to the reasons why Prime Ministers embark on machinery of government changes – external changes, administrative issues and political necessity – we find we have a clean sweep for the DWP.

What might we do?

So, what if we considered disbanding the DWP and instead gave its responsibilities to other (existing or new) departments?

The theoretical game of departmental musical chairs has already started. The Economist has mooted some sort of Department for Economic Reform, which might take responsibility for employment policy and job centres from DWP, bring in post-16 education and training from the Department for Education and cities and local growth from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Similarly, Neil Crowther has suggested something similar when it comes to a future disability agenda, taking away disability employment support from DWP and giving it to a skills-based agenda, led by someone like BIS or, perhaps (my thought) the Department for Economic Reform above.

Whilst the music is still playing, then, here is my very initial, very rough suggestion for where DWP’s responsibilities may be allocated, based on its current spending responsibilities:

Area of spend Current spend Where responsibility could be allocated
Pensions £89.5bn A separate agency for pensions
Housing Benefit £23.5bn A new department, derived from DCLG, that holds responsibility for infrastructure, including housing
Disability benefits £22.3bn Perhaps a “Department for Inclusion”, which builds extensively on parts of the Department of Health’s current remit
Out of work benefits £18.8bn The mooted Department for Economic Reform
Child & Maternity benefits £12.8bn Moved to the Department for Education
Winter Fuel Payment + TV licenses £2.8bn Winter Fuel moved to Department for Energy & Climate Change; TV Licenses moved to DCMS or even the BBC

As I stressed at the start, these are just top-level thoughts for what might be done and are, to a large extent, fantastical. There are clearly various problems and issues of different orders with what I’ve suggested [4].

But the main point to take away from this post are the ideas that

  • DWP isn’t a government institution we should assume will always exist
  • The main reasons why a department ceases to exist have been fulfilled in the case of DWP, and so
  • We should open up the discussion on what to do next with the policy and administrative responsibilities currently in DWP. My suggestions are an offering to start precisely this.


[1] – I am indebted to the excellent Making & Breaking Whitehall Departments by the brilliant Institute for Government (pdf) for analysis of machinery of government changes and the history of the DWP

[2] – Thanks to Flip Chart Rick for the link. His excellent post on £12bn further welfare cuts in part prompted my thinking on this topic

[3] – These figures don’t include tax credits, since I believe they are administered by HMRC. Similarly, they don’t include Council Tax Benefit, which has been replaced by council-run support schemes, the central government subsidy for these is forecast at £4.3bn per year to 2016-17.

[4] – Not that this has ever stopped others from making silly suggestions. I’m looking at you, think tanks.

Update: Neil Crowther kindly highlighted this piece by Simon Duffy where he moots the possibility of closing down DWP as a practical solution to reforming Employment & Support Allowance.

Should the #ILF close? Yes. But… (updated)

It’s not efficiencies. It’s not bloated public spending. It’s disabled people not being supported to meet the most basic elements of day-to-day life – getting out of bed, making a cup of tea, or going to the supermarket.

I’ve immodestly quoted from a post I wrote over 3 year ago on the Independent Living Fund, when it was announced it was closed to new applicants. 6 months later, I wrote another post after it was officially announced ILF was to close from 2015, noting responsibility was likely to fall to those well known cash-rich organisations, local councils.

Today, a court of appeal bid to overturn the abolition of the ILF has been approved. I haven’t seen the full judgment, but it seems to cite both the Equality Act (and great work from the EHRC for intervening to this effect) and that the decision to close the Fund didn’t take account of the flavour of consultation responses.

This is good news.

It doesn’t solve the problem, though, of what to do with the Independent Living Fund in the long term.

For me, the definitive report on what to do with the Independent Living Fund was written in 2006 by Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson. It notes the peculiar history of the ILF: set up in 1988 as a transitional arrangement, a related new fund created in 1993, the original fund closed to new applications but replaced by an extension fund, all meaning there have actually been two funds operating in parallel since 1993. The report also highlights the huge number of considerations that have to be taken into account when doing anything with the ILF, not least of which is recognising the vital support it provides to 19,000 people.

And it also notes the ILF is anomalous in the long term, and that it continues to account for a large amount of social care expenditure whilst operating to different rules and remits that are incongruent to mainstream social care. It also notes ILF can result in inequity, unaccountability, duplication, arbitrary decisions and major confusion.

As such, the report concludes the ILF should close.

I agree.


In closing the ILF, there are a number of points and principles which must be observed, and that at a minimum are:

  • Any transition from ILF to other funded support should be slow and steady. (In the 3 years since DWP announced the closure of the ILF in 2015, I think very little activity could be detected)
  • The money people received through ILF should be protected, and most definitely shouldn’t be swallowed up by local authority budgets
  • The better parts of the ILF (such as a national, portable system) should influence the new location of the money, rather than these being lost.

The world since Henwood and Hudson wrote their report has changed, not least in the considerable cuts we are seeing in social care and the wider health and welfare reforms. But shifting the principles and support of the ILF into the main provision of social care is still the best thing to do, as long as the minimum points above are met.

The DWP’s original attempt at closing the ILF clearly didn’t do this; the motivation was instead to cut money, and the court of appeal has rightly picked them up on it.

Now, though, there is a chance to look again at this properly. Hopefully the DWP will do this, and do it:

  1. With people from the Department of Health working on the Care Bill and the Integration Transformation Fund
  2. With people driving the personalisation of health and social care
  3. Most importantly, with the people who will be affected by the change.

Update: the full court of appeal judgment is here. It indeed uses the Public Sector Equality Duty as the basis of quashing the original decision.

Direct Payments and fraud

One of the things that is often heard in discussions about Personal Budgets, Direct Payments and mental health is the drugs and alcohol gambit, i.e.

People with mental health problems will probably spend the money that’s meant to be for their support on drugs and alcohol.


The Audit Commission identified some £2.2m of Direct Payments (probably in 2010) that was spent fraudulently. In 2010/11, a total of £960m was spent through Direct Payments.

As such, identified Direct Payments fraud made up the positively DWP-levels (see point 10 here) of 0.2% of all expenditure on Direct Payments.

In the same way people rightly ask for evidence to make the case for this, that or the other, we should also ask people who prefer things as they are what their evidence is against.

Sharing DASH’s journey (#dpulo)

It’s always great to hear about the difference the Facilitation Fund has made to a DPULO. Below, the Disablement Association Hillingdon – DASH – share what they’ve done through their Facilitation Fund award. Thanks to Angela Wegener for sending this to us.

Our award through the Facilitation Fund has led us on a journey that has opened up a number of opportunities for DASH as an organisation and its service users.

This award enabled us to set up a retail arm as Accredited Retailers for the Transforming Community Equipment Service, raising a small income by dispensing prescriptions and selling small aids and adaptations.

At the same time as this service was set up, our successful three year Transitions Project was coming to an end. This project had provided support for young people with a disability aged 16-25. The knowledge gained from this project had shown us that there was a real need to provide supported work experience placements for young people with disabilities, who when they leave college do not have any opportunity to gain experience and find employment.

Working with Hillingdon Adult Education we set up a small pilot project to trial work experience placements for a small number of their students who were on an ALDD course, giving them the opportunity to experience retail work at our office, in a supportive environment. This pilot was so successful that we decided to apply for funding from the Cadburys Foundation to enable us to continue to run it. This funding was granted, enabling us to employ a member of staff to oversee our new work experience programme.

This project has gone from strength to strength; we now work in partnership with property agents Knight Frank who kindly provide property maintenance work experience placements in their local office complex, Hyde Park Hayes, for young people once they have completed an initial six week assessment here with us. We are hoping that this will expand in the New Year to provide opportunities in working in their reception.

A number of young people have also been able to gain a Level 1 FA coaching qualification in football, and will be volunteering in local schools assisting at lunch time and after school clubs. It is hoped that in the future they will be paid a sessional fee for this.

We are also exploring the possibility of putting in a joint bid for funding with Hillingdon Adult Education, which will enable us to provide work experience placements at our local Rural Activities Garden Centre in their new café and shop.

You can find out more about DASH on their website here:

Report from Wiltshire CIL on ILF consultation

This is a good report on the work done by Wiltshire CIL – a DPULO in the South West – on the Independent Living Fund. This is a great example of the support a DPULO provides people, as well as how they can help represent people’s views on different issues.

Strengthening DPULOs Programme monthly bulletin, no. 10 (end of year edition) #dpulo

This is the tenth monthly update about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme. This is also the last update of 2012, so rather than the usual mix of links and stories (which will begin again in January) I thought it would be useful to reflect on where the DPULOs agenda has got to.

2012: a year for DPULOs?

At the start of the year I suggested 2012 could be the year for DPULOs. There were 3 reasons for this view:

  1. There was a detectable shift towards leveling the playing field for different types of providers in public services
  2. There was proof that DPULOs could be clear about the value they add in representing disabled people’s voices locally
  3. The evidence for the difference DPULOs make was starting to come through, and stakeholders were starting to take note.

What we’ve seen over the last 12 months is further evidence for each of the points above. For example:

  1. DPULOs, social enterprises and mutuals are starting to be treated differently – and for the better – in the way public services are commissioned. Liverpool is one good example and we’ll have more in the New Year
  2. There is now significant evidence of the difference the voice of disabled people in their local communities, represented through DPULOs can make. This isn’t just in saving money (though that’s important), but also in the improvements in people’s quality of life. Just look at the evidence here.
  3. There is also now much more evidence than there’s ever been of the unique value DPULOs add when they deliver local services. They increase choice and control. They’re trusted more. They deliver a return on investment. And they save money. The evidence is here.

As a result, there’s been a major shift in thinking: the question I used to be asked all the time was “What is a DPULO?” Now, the question I am asked is “Now I know the difference they can make, how can I get the most out of one in my local area?”

Government has taken note, too: where DPULOs used to be thought of mainly in terms of social care, now they are reflected in several areas of policy:

  • In the ODI’s Fulfilling Potential documents and Right to Control Trailblazers
  • In the Home Office’s Hate Crime Action Plan
  • In the DWP’s drive to increase take up of Access to Work
  • In the DfE’s new approach to SEN and disability
  • In DCLG’s Community Budgets work
  • In the Cabinet Office’s Open Public Services White Paper
  • (A full list is here)

Not only this, but the Strengthening DPULOs Programme has provided over £1m of funding through the Facilitation Fund to enhance the sustainability of DPULOs (see here) .

And we’re thinking ahead to the future, too: whilst keeping on with the good stuff we’ve been doing, we’ll be getting new work going  in areas such as:

  • Examples of DPULOs working well with commissioners
  • DPULOs and Making It Real in social care
  • DPULOs and local Healthwatch
  • DPULOs and young disabled people
  • DPULOs, social media and accessible engagement
  • DPULOs and fundraising
  • Mapping the DPULO sector
  • Further evidence on the return on investment DPULOs deliver.

What about 2013?

Despite all of the positives of 2012, it has of course been an incredibly challenging year. DPULOs have not been immune from this, partly because of the significant challenges that disabled people themselves have faced and will continue to face.

And we know that circumstances facing DPULOs are likely to be just as hard, if not harder, into the future as local government and others also face a tough time.

But I am optimistic. As Baroness Campbell said:

Disabled people are the best problem solvers.

In a year that will see lots of problems for lots of different people and organisations, what better people and organisations to have working with you than disabled people and Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations?

Over the festive period, I shall reflect on the incredible work that all of you have done through your DPULOs in your local communities, and think forward to what you will continue to achieve in 2013 and beyond.

I hope you have a restful and relaxing holiday.

Rich Watts

(On behalf of all at the Strengthening DPULOs Programme team)

Find out more about the Programme

To find out more about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, you can visit our website. We also regularly update our Facebook the page with lots of information you will hopefully find useful, plus news from other DPULOs: If you are on Twitter, you can share information and find out more about DPULOs using the hashtag #dpulo. Please also remember to use the #dpulo hashtag if ever you’re tweeting about your work

You can find all 9 of the previous monthly updates here.

Contact us

For information, biographies, contact details and details of the areas covered by each of the DPULO Ambassadors covers, please visit the Ambassadors page.

If you have any questions about the Facilitation Fund or any part Strengthening DPULOs Programme, please contact

Please feel free to forward this information on to any DPULOs, networks or stakeholders you think might find it interesting.

DPULOs, peer support and Access to Work – Expression of Interest


The Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, recently announced further measures to ensure disabled people can benefit from Access to Work.

The Government will also implement a package of measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, chaired by Mike Adams from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp).

The full notice can be found in the DWP’s pressroom. Further information about Access to Work can be found on GOV.UK.

One of the measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel is for “Grassroots disability organisations (Disabled People’s User Led Organisations) to look at what else can be done to provide one-to-one peer support to disabled people using the Access to Work scheme”.

This Expression of Interest outlines how you can get involved in this work.

DPULOs, peer support and Access to Work – background

DPULOs currently deliver peer support in areas such as social care and volunteering. Evidence from social care reports show people have more choice and control and flexibility over their care and support through peer-led approaches, including in assessment, care planning and implementation. Formal programmes in health – such as the Expert Patient Programme – are also built on principle of peer support.

We are now keen to look at how peer support can work for people using Access to Work in their local area.

There is a variety of options for DPULOs to deliver peer support activities in their local area which could both complement and supplement support provided through the Access to Work process. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Buddying scheme – pairing up individuals with similar impairments / conditions or employment situations who use Access to Work
  • Advice – DPULOs can provide focussed and targeted advice on specific groups, eg people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions, or young disabled people
  • Support – DPULOs could provide support to employers and encourage and up skill JCP advisers to support employers in their local area
  • Workshops – DPULOs could arrange Access to Work workshops with groups of people in preparation for starting work or long-term sick employees returning to work. Workshops would be able to identify what help is available and enable employees to have an opportunity to share learning of what works
  • Other forms of peer support – DPULOs can offer various other forms of peer support, such as one-to-one, on the telephone, or as mentoring in the workplace. Workplace peer support could also be used to enable disabled employees to progress in work and more importantly keep the job.

What we are going to do

Working through the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations programme, we are inviting local DPULOs to put forward their ideas for delivering innovative peer support for people using Access to Work. This can be either a new project, or build on something you are already doing.

We are aiming to start this work as soon as possible. Expressions of Interest are invited below, and will be marked according to the criteria highlighted.

Organisations that are successful at the Expression of Interest stage will be asked to write a full proposal for consideration at a special meeting of the Facilitation Fund Board, which will comprise members of the Access to Work Expert Panel and Ambassadors from the Strengthening DPULOs Programme.

We are looking for around 10 local DPULOs to deliver a project. We anticipate these projects beginning in January 2013 and running for approximately 12 months, including evaluation.

Please note: any DPULO is eligible to express an interest, even if you have already received funding from the Facilitation Fund. The normal Facilitation Fund financial limits will not apply to this work. For further information on this, please contact Rich Watts (details below).

Expressions of Interest

We would like DPULOs to submit a brief (no more than 4 sides A4) Expression of Interest to deliver an innovative peer support project for AtW in their local area.

Your Expression of Interest will be marked against the following criteria:

  • The DPULO’s knowledge, understanding and expertise regarding Access to Work and the barriers individuals face
  • The DPULO’s track record in delivering peer support approaches that result in tangible differences in their local area
  • The DPULO’s idea for an innovative peer support project for Access to Work in their local area
  • The scalability of the proposed innovative peer support project
  • The DPULO’s approach to partnership work in delivering the project
  • The DPULO’s approach to capturing learning and evaluating the effectiveness of the project
  • The DPULO’s capacity to demonstrate the ability to deliver this work over the next 12 months
  • The proposed cost for this project and its value for money.

Expressions of Interest will be considered and marked by the Strengthening DPULOs Programme and members of the Access to Work Expert panel. Shortlisted DPULOs will be chosen solely on the basis of the information provided.

Please submit your Expression of Interest to by 5pm on Friday 14 December.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Rich above. Similarly, if you know a DPULO who may be interested in this opportunity, please pass this information on to them.

November 2012

Over £1m of Government funding awarded to grassroots disability organisations #dpulo

Below is a copy of a press notice issued about the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations, which has recently passed through a key milestone – over £1m awarded to DPULOs.

Over one million pounds has now been awarded as part of a programme to help bolster small grassroots disability organisations, the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey announces today.

The programme is now set to be extended to Northern Ireland so that other organisations can benefit from the GBP3million fund which was launched last summer.

Esther McVey MP, Minister for Disabled People, said:

“Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations are run by and for disabled people and play a vital role in making sure disabled people have their voices heard at every level.

“In many cases DPULOs already provide support and services alongside those provided by the public sector and often they are better at doing so as they can draw on their own first hand experiences of a disability.  They have clear ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

“The idea of the fund was based on feedback we had received from small disability organisations that a little funding at the right time can make all the difference to the support they are able to provide to disabled people.

“We still have millions of pounds left, so if you are already part of a DPULO, then this is an opportunity to raise its profile and build on the successes you have already achieved.”

The DPULO programme is making a significant difference to grassroots organisations and their local communities through awards from the Facilitation Fund to organisations such as the Communication for Blind and Disabled People.

One of the DPULOs received an award after developing a smart phone navigation app for blind people. The app – called “Georgie” – has since won the “Google Outstanding Use of Technology in the Field of Diversity” award at the European Diversity Awards 2012 at the end of September.

Roger Wilson-Hinds of Communication for Blind and Disabled People thanked the DPULO programme and said:

“Without you it wouldn’t have happened!”

Cheshire Centre for Independent Living was awarded £28,735 to develop an online peer support forum in the north west. Lindsey Walton-Hardy, Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre, said:

“We’ve wanted to develop our peer support offer to disabled people locally for a long time. This welcome award provides us with the opportunity to turn our idea into reality. Not only will this be of great benefit to disabled people locally, but it will also support Cheshire CIL to become more sustainable.”

Any organisations wishing to bid for money for specific projects and help shape the future provision for disabled people, can do so by visiting – or

Note to editors:

All in one place: every monthly #dpulo bulletin

Each month, I publish a monthly bulletin for the Strengthening DPULOs Programme. As well as recent good and relevant news from the world of Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations, each monthly bulletin also includes links to useful resources.

Below are links to each of the monthly bulletins.

If there are any resources or learning you’d like to share with the wide DPULO network, just let me know in the comments below.

Strengthening DPULOs Programme, monthly bulletins: