The government has refused to say which organisations it approached in advance about setting up a new “​alliance​”​ of disabled people’​s organisations (DPOs), charities, and private and public sector organisations.

Concern at the proposal to set up the new Disability Action Alliance (DAA) –​ which will be tasked with producing new disability policies for the coalition –​ mounted this week as influential parts of the disability movement gathered in London to discuss setting up their own separate campaigning network, in a bid to unify the disability movement.

The user-led disability charity RNIB is among those angry at the decision to appoint Disability Rights UK to lead the government’​s new alliance.

Steve Winyard, RNIB’​s head of policy and campaigns, said his organisation had “​profound reservations”​ about DAA.

He said: “​It is not at all clear why the government should think it is able to make decisions on behalf of disabled people about who represents them and who forms alliances.”​

RNIB is the latest DPO to say that it was not told about the plans for the new alliance until the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) published its Fulfilling Potential - Next Steps document last week.

Winyard said RNIB would be writing to ODI to ask “​for clarity about the process that led to DR UK being appointed”​.

He added: “​What rights do ODI and the Department for Work and Pensions have to be king-makers?”​

So far, Inclusion London, the UK Disabled People’​s Council (UKDPC), RNIB and Scope have all said that news of the new “​alliance​”​ had taken them by surprise when it was announced by the government last week, even though the Next Steps document states that “​a number of organisations have already expressed an interest in joining the alliance”​.

DR UK has this week clarified its involvement with the alliance.

Last week, it told Disability News Service that there “​will be a fee for convening”​ DAA, but now it has stressed that although it will receive money to “​facilitate other people’​s involvement”​, it was not “​being paid”​ for its work.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said the idea for the alliance had “​emerged from the regular meetings that were held with a group of disability organisations during development of Fulfilling Potential –​ Next Steps”​.

She said: “​We spoke to a number of organisations about providing quotes for Fulfilling Potential –​ Next Steps, and in some of those discussions organisations expressed an interest in being part of a partnership or alliance.”​

She said DR UK offered to work with ODI after saying in its response to last December’​s discussion document that it wanted the government’​s disability strategy to be “​action focused”​.

She said: “​As the idea of the alliance firmed up it was clear that DR UK were well placed to convene the partnership as they are a UK-wide, pan-disability organisation led by disabled people, and with a presence in local communities... so they were invited to take on this role.”​

UKDPC has already said it was “​shocked and disappointed”​ by DR UK’​s appointment, which it said had taken place “​behind closed doors”​.

It described the alliance as another “​quango”​, and said it would represent the views and interests of big business and service-provider​s.

UKDPC is among DPOs planning to approach MPs to ask questions in the Commons about how DR UK was appointed.

News provided by John Pring at


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