AN EXTRA £3m is available for disabled people’s grassroots organisations, the Government has announced.

User-led organisations will be able to bid for the extra money – “to better deliver services disabled people really need” – from July.

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, is also appealing for ‘ambassadors’ to share best practise across the country.

The minister said:

“Disabled people should have choice and independence in how they live their lives.

“Organisations run by, and for, disabled people play a vital role in making sure they have their voices heard at every level.

“Grassroots organisations are the experts in their local communities. That is why we are investing £3million to help these organisations play an even greater role in shaping the decisions that will affect their lives.

“We are looking for ambassadors in each region to promote disabled people’s organisations and share their skills and experience to help local organisations to become even more successful.”

The minister is also appealing for talented individuals from private businesses, voluntary organisations and other charities to support the scheme by sharing their skills and expertise in areas such as HR, business planning, financial management and IT.

As part of the scheme, user-led organisations will be able to bid for a share of money for specific projects that will make a significant difference to their development and sustainability.

The fund will be discretionary and ULOs will have a say in how it will be administered and what the criteria for receiving a grant will be.

Philippa Thompson, CEO from the Independent Living Association for disabled people in West Sussex who is supporting the scheme, said:

“Smaller organisations like ours have less money and so we sometimes find it difficult to develop and improve services and skills.

“That’s why a grant fund, and the skills and experience we could gain through the scheme, will help us become even more successful in delivering services. Even a small amount of extra funding could make a big difference.”

Meanwhile, Jaspal Dhani, CEO of the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council, said: “It’s great that the minister recognises the role DPOs play. But she needs to realise that daily life costs more if you’re disabled.

“And every cut to our support – whether it’s Disability Living Allowance or vital local services – makes it that much harder for us to play a part in our community.

“Thousands of disabled people gathered in London in May to make that point. But the minister turned down an invitation to listen to their concerns.

“If the Government is serious about promoting independence and greater involvement in decision making, it has to protect the support that allows them to contribute to their community.”