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The UK Disability Market

For the last financial year the income of the following organisations is as follows –

Scope – 101 million pounds

Mencap – 194 million pounds

RNID – 41 million pounds

RNIB – 135 million pounds

Leonard Cheshire – 155 million pounds

Guide Dogs – 57 million pounds

MS Society – 29 million pounds

MND Association – 13 million pounds

Spinal Injuries Association – 20 million pounds

TOTAL = 745 million.

And this is by no means the end of the list of disability charities operating in the UK today (e.g. think of other impairment-specific charities, such as the Parkinson’s association, Headway, etc.).

Add to this figure the amount of money spent by Local Authorities across the UK. Every Local Authority spends large amounts of money on providing services for disabled people, including day care, residential, domiciliary, and other services.

Then there is the amount of money spent by health-related organisations, including Primary Care Trusts, Public Health bodies, and others.

The national government also spends large amounts of money on disability related matters, including on benefits, and other provision.

I would like to put forward 3 questions for your consideration here –

1. How much of this money is controlled by disabled people themselves?

There are, of course, organisations created, managed, staffed, and run by disabled people. These are often called User Led Organisations (ULOs). In general these are relatively small organisations, with incomes of between 500 thousand and a million for the larger ULOs. The majority get by on much less than this though. And many operate on little, or no, income.

There is a push for Local Authority Social Services to operate within a ‘Personalisation’ model, where the individual is given money rather than services. This applies only to individual who are eligible to receive care and support from their Social Services Department, and this is, increasingly, only for people with Substantial or Critical care needs.

The Department of Health is also working through a process of piloting Individual Budgets in place of providing services directly to the individual.

However the vast majority of the hundreds of millions of pounds lodged within the ‘Disability Industry’ are not controlled by disabled people themselves.

It is clear that there is a ‘Disability Industry’, worth many billions of pounds, controlled by non-disabled people.

2. How many disabled people are there?

No-one knows for sure. No-one collects comprehensive data on this, plus it is very hard to count, for several reasons, including the following –

–         There is a stigma associated with being labelled as ‘disabled’;

–         Being labelled disabled can impact on your ability to get, and keep, a job;

–         Being disabled is not seen in any way as a positive personal attribute by the wider society.

The Office for Disability Issues estimates there are 10 million disabled people, or people with a long term limiting illness, in the UK.

3. Where does this money go?

It is absolutely certain that disabled people, right now, feel themselves under enormous pressure, particularly those with the highest levels of need – the Hardest Hit.

Statutory, and other services are being reduced, or cut altogether.

Disabled People are finding themselves more and more isolated, as petrol prices soar, fuel bills escalate, and food prices rocket.

Disability Hate Crime is increasing.

Jobs are becoming ever-scarcer, and disabled people are among the most under-employed in society,


Billions of pounds.