Changing the Funding Landscape for Disability Justice: Disability Rights UK’s call to Funding Organisations

Fri,3 November 2023
News Equality & Rights Participation
Disability Rights UK (DR UK) proudly announces the launch of a DPO sector scheme that will challenge the funding landscape for disability justice.

We aim to highlight the transformative change that arises when Disabled individuals themselves are at the forefront of driving disability work. We firmly believe funding should be exclusively directed towards DPOs and Disabled people-led groups to ensure that disability work is genuinely impactful, inclusive, and guided by those who understand it best. 

To start this work, we’ve released our founding principles for achieving disability justice in the funding sector. True change begins with accessible funding processes, core unrestricted funding, inclusive eligibility criteria, and the acknowledgement of intersectional experiences.  This is a passionate call to action for funding organisations, urging them to prioritise the support and funding of Disabled people-led work. 

Why This Matters 

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. It aligns with the fundamental principles of equality, inclusion, and non-discrimination enshrined in international human rights frameworks.  

This approach not only upholds the principles of human rights but also honours the historical significance of DPOs in shaping the disability movement. 

In the 1980s, DPOs, with core and unrestricted long-term funding, catalysed radical change by challenging societal barriers and paving the way for groundbreaking legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). They have also played a pivotal role in developing disability laws and policies, significantly contributing to the UK's co-design of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and UK disability law. 

What's next

The DPO sector is coproducing a Funding Position Statement across various networks of DPOs, reflecting a collaborative effort to promote disability justice and inclusivity.  

Once completed, the statement will provide a valuable resource for funders and organisations interested in transforming their sector for disability justice. 

Where to learn more? 

Watch our presentation on funding the disability movement at NPC’s Funding and Philanthropist drop-in.  

Get Involved 

By prioritising Disabled people-led and representative organisations like DPOs, funders can foster true justice. We urge funders to heed our call and work with us to transform the lives of Disabled people across the UK.  

If you are a funding organisation committed to making a difference and want to get involved in this transformative journey, contact us at .  

Take Action: Here's what you can do next

  • Engage: Continue the conversation with us at Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London and DPOs across the UK. Please share your thoughts and insights on the questions above, and let's collaborate to find solutions. 
  • Explore Partnerships: Consider partnerships with DPOs and grassroots organisations in your funding initiatives. Your connections can be transformative. 
  • Advocate: Join us in advocating for representation and disability justice within your organisation. Encourage the implementation of DPO-led funding schemes. 
  • Disabled People's Manifesto Sign-On: To show your support for our movement, please consider signing the Disabled People's Manifesto. You can sign on here: Disabled People's Manifesto Sign-On

Fundamental Principles

The principles we advocate for extend beyond theory into practical recommendations for funding accessibility. To truly prioritise Disabled people-led and representative organisations, we propose the following actions: 

Co-Producing Application Processes 

Collaboration with DPOs in designing accessible application processes is key to ensuring that funding is inclusive and reflective of the diverse needs and capacities of Disabled people. Vitally, DPOs should have shared decision-making power at the starting point of your scheme development.  

Accessibility of Applications 

Funders should prioritise the accessibility of grant applications. This includes providing alternative formats, using plain language and easy reads, allowing for video or audio submissions, and providing assistance whenever needed. 

Core Unrestricted Funding 

DPOs require core unrestricted funding to operate effectively and respond flexibly to the evolving needs of Disabled people. Funders offer stability and continuity by providing at least five years of funding, enabling DPOs to focus on long-term strategic planning, capacity building, and sustainable advocacy work. 

Inclusive Eligibility Criteria 

It's essential to recognise that impactful disability work extends beyond registered charities. Grassroots groups and Community Interest Companies (CICs) led by Disabled people have proven their effectiveness and should be eligible for funding. Emphasising impact and representation over legal structures supports an equitable distribution of power in disability justice.  

Intersectional and Representative Funding 

To address the diverse experiences of disabled people, funders should acknowledge and support intersectional organisations. Funding should be provided to groups that represent and work with Disabled people from different ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQ+ communities, working class backgrounds, and other marginalised groups. Intersectionality should be explicitly incorporated into funding criteria. 

Conclusion: Fostering Inclusivity, Equality, and Social Change 

In conclusion, prioritising Disabled people-led and representative organisations is not just an ethical choice but a strategic investment. By recognising the potential of Disabled individuals, we support an inclusive society guided by lived experiences. This collaborative approach ensures practical, transformative disability work aligned with the UK's commitment to disability rights. Investment in DPOs empowers Disabled people and yields economic and social benefits. Together, we can champion disability rights, break down barriers, and create a thriving, inclusive future.