One of the country’s leading disabled people’s organisations is to end its commitment to being a user-led charity in a bid to become a national player in the employment support market.Essex Coalition of Disabled People, which has been known for five years as ecdp, is being replaced by a new organisation, Purple, which will be a community interest company (CIC) instead of a charity and will focus on helping disabled people into work.Although Purple will still provide services such as help with direct payments, developing support plans and personal health budgets, it will focus on employment-related consultancy and recruitment services.And it will no longer commit to being a disabled people’s user-led organisation (DPULO) – 100 per cent of ecdp’s board are disabled people – although the proportion of its board might still have a majority of disabled people.Mike Adams (pictured), former chief executive of ecdp and now chief executive of Purple, said a key reason for the move was the loss last summer of ecdp’s biggest contract, with a local authority.He said: “There was a kind of recognition as a disability organisation that there was a level of patronage that really existed and our future lay in the hands of not us, and our existence lay in the hands of not us.”He said he had seen many DPULOs go out of business in the last 12 months, usually because their main funder had either withdrawn or significantly lowered its funding.Another reason for replacing ecdp with Purple was the recognition that it “needed to modernise”, he said.Adams said: “What we were providing probably wasn’t the cutting-edge services and products that disabled people required.”As a result, ecdp interviewed all 2,000 of its members over five months about “what it is like to be disabled in Essex”.He said ecdp’s members said they wanted “high quality information, advice and guidance from an organisation that understands disability, but to be frank they actually don’t care whether we are a user-led organisation or not”.He said: “We thought that was always going to be one of our unique selling points, but we were totally disabused by our members.”But he said Purple would still have the principles of “the lived experience of disability, the voice of disabled people” instilled in everything it did, while providing “a set of services and products that disabled people want to buy”.And he said that as long as that was the case, being a DPULO was less important.He admitted that he was “anxious” of how this would be received by other DPULOs.He said: “We have a huge job to persuade people that the model we are setting out is the right one for disabled people.“I am absolutely aware that for some people they will see this as not selling out but a compromise too far, and I suspect that this is not going to work for everyone.”He said he hoped that there would be a similar reaction to when he gave a presentation to the National Centre for Independent Living several years ago, shortly after becoming chief executive of ecdp, in which he warned that disabled people’s organisations needed to change how they operated or they would cease to exist.Although he was slow-handclapped during that speech, he said many people came to him in the following weeks to say they might not agree but would still like him to explain what he meant.He said: “It’s not our intention to be radical. I don’t like being an outlier, but I do know if we hadn’t done what we are doing I’m not sure the lives of disabled people in Essex and beyond would be better for it.”Out of the consultation with ecdp members, he said, came the recognition that Purple would need to “marry together disabled people and businesses and other stakeholders in order to have a different conversation about disability”.Some of the products and services offered by Purple will be aimed at businesses and others will be aimed at disabled people, he said.He said the new board would be an “amalgam of disabled people and business leaders who might be disabled or might not”.He said: “We are looking for talented individuals who see the potential of Purple, but we are not going to have that restrictive 100 per cent that we had with ecdp.“There are other DPULOs who survive and thrive but we wanted to expand our reach and move out of an organisation that was predominantly into social care and health and move into issues which really impact on the lives of disabled people, which was employment, education… and the way to do that is to bring those stakeholders into the tent.”Adams was a member of a taskforce set up by the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, to look at how to improve the government’s much-criticised Disability Confident (DC) campaign.He said DC was likely to move on from being “just a campaign communications tool to something where organisations can actually work for something and get something. That is what the taskforce was asked to look at.”One of Purple’s services will be to help employers become “accredited”, as part of the government’s refreshed Disability Confident scheme. He said the new accreditation process was one of the taskforce’s recommendations that Tomlinson has accepted, although he was not able to provide details of how this would work ahead of today’s (Thursday) planned Disability Confident relaunch.But he insisted that the new DC would be “more than a campaign” and “something much more concrete and much more than warm words”, and that “we absolutely hope” that it would not “simply be a modern-day Two Ticks”, the much-criticised scheme run by Jobcentre Plus that shows which employers are supposedly “positive about disabled people” in their recruitment.The decision to close ecdp and replace it with Purple was a unanimous one taken by the ecdp board, said Adams.He said: “I think everyone knew that if we didn’t do something pretty radical, pretty different, as an organisation, we would be providing no support to disabled people in a few months’ time.”The decision to become a CIC instead of a charity – although part of it is likely to be set up as a charitable foundation – will provide “the opportunity for people to invest in some of the different products and services we are developing”, he said.Purple’s target is to help more than 20,000 disabled people find permanent jobs over the next decade.Adams said: “We want to go from an organisation based in Essex for people in Essex and the hinterland to an organisation that is based in Essex and that works nationally.”As well as acting as a specialist employment agency for disabled people, through its online disability recruitment agency, it also will offer “meaningful work placements”, extending a disability employment programme ecdp has been running called ecdp Works.The programme offers participants an intensive one-week training and development course, followed by a six-week supported work placement, and then another intensive week, followed by three months of support while either seeking employment – more than three-fifths have found jobs – or furthering their education.He said: “We think that programme works because it’s been run by disabled people for disabled people; one participant described it as a disability boot camp.”Purple is part of two consortia, led by “national players”, which are bidding for substantial contracts that would mean – if successful – Purple delivering this programme to “significant numbers” of disabled people over the next three years.Adams would not confirm who the “national players” were, although he confirmed that they were not Remploy/Maximus or Atos.He said it was likely that Purple would gradually develop “satellite bases” across the UK, and hopefully become known as “an organisation that works across the UK rather than just Essex and the south-east”.It also intends to become a major player in the recruitment of personal assistants (PAs), planning to help disabled people recruit 25,000 PAs in the next 10 years.Adams, a former senior manager with the Disability Rights Commission, previously chaired an expert advisory panel for the government on its Access to Work scheme.As part of its launch, which saw Adams open the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday (12 July) morning, Purple released findings from a survey of 1,000 businesses.The survey found nearly half of the businesses (45 per cent) were apprehensive about hiring a disabled person, because of fears that they would not be able to do the job and concerns about making “inappropriate comments or actions”.It also found that almost half of employers (43 per cent) expected job applicants to disclose their impairments before they were interviewed, despite there being no legal obligation to do so.Adams said Purple had benefited from substantial “in kind” support around this week’s launch, including the Stock Exchange event and an evening reception at the offices of international law firm CMS Cameron McKenna.
The chancellor’s spring statement shows that disabled people will continue to bear the brunt of austerity, according to leading user-led organisations.They spoke out after Philip Hammond (pictured) resisted calls to increase funding for adult social care and other public services in this week’s statement.Instead, he suggested that he might increase public spending in the autumn budget and insisted that “spending on the disabled” was continuing to increase every year.But there was anger and frustration among user-led organisations at Hammond’s refusal to address the funding crisis, particularly in social care.Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, said Hammond’s statement “had little to do with the economic well-being of the nation and even less with the rights and needs of disabled people”.Instead, he said, it was “primarily shaped by the government’s and the chancellor’s own uncertain situation and their fears for the forthcoming local elections”.Beresford said: “As I hear daily reports of disabled people’s increasingly precarious financial and personal situations, with a vicious and dishonest benefits system continuing unconstrained, despite the massive and growing evidence of its cruelty, we have to wonder how long this can go on, before the scars to disabled people and the nation reach a point of being unrecoverable.“I can only agree with shadow chancellor John McDonnell who has accused Mr Hammond of ‘ignoring’ the public services despite ‘a crisis on a scale we have never seen before’.”Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “Despite the positive outlook portrayed by the chancellor we remain concerned that disabled people are being left behind. “His emphasis on ‘talent and hard work’* is blunted by the reality of disabled people’s experience of finding and keeping jobs. “Once again, the opportunity to pick up the challenges in health and social care services, which are seriously impacting on the lives of disabled people, remains ignored.“In the meantime, forthcoming changes to the benefits system will hit disabled people hardest – we need a system which doesn’t drive more disabled people into poverty.”Brian Hilton, digital campaigns officer for Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, said the spring statement sent “a clear message to everyone” that austerity “remains the government’s mantra and that disabled people will continue to bear the brunt of ongoing cuts and rationing of services”.He said: “It used to be that chancellors would give with one hand and take with the other. “Well it’s clear what’s being taken away: it’s our social care funding, it’s our wheelchair services, our British Sign Language interpretation services, our access to healthcare, our Motability vehicles, our benefits, our housing, our education grants and our employment support.“So what are they giving us? Well, there is the rise in disability hate crimes, increased numbers of disabled people attempting suicide, a million benefit sanctions imposed upon disabled people, and the dubious honour of being the first country to be investigated by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which found ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights.”Simone Aspis, policy and campaigns coordinator for The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), said the chancellor had done nothing to ease the crisis in inclusive education, with increasing evidence of cuts to the support disabled students need to access mainstream education.She said one of the reasons for increasing numbers of disabled children being excluded from mainstream schools had to be the lack of support they receive.She said: “We are very disappointed that the government are not addressing the issue.”Aspis pointed to reports last month that Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council was planning to cut a quarter of its staff who support disabled pupils in mainstream schools, while there have also been threats to educational support funding in the London borough of Hackney.She said the government’s failure to support disabled pupils in mainstream education – and its determination instead to “pump money into the special school system” – meant it was breaching its duties under the Equality Act, the Children and Families Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.McDonnell accused Hammond of “congratulating himself on marginally improved economic forecasts, while he refuses to lift a finger as councils go bust, the NHS and social care are in crisis, school budgets are cut, homelessness has doubled and wages are falling”.He told Hammond that, “as always, the harshest cuts fall on disabled people”.That appeared to be confirmed the day after Hammond’s spring statement, when a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded that families with disabled adults and disabled children were facing “the largest financial loss in cash terms compared to any other household type” as a result of all the tax, national insurance, social security and minimum wage reforms that have been introduced by Conservative-led governments between May 2010 and January 2018.The EHRC report found that disabled lone parents with particularly high support needs would lose over £11,000 a year on average, slightly more than 30 per cent of their net income, by 2021-22.*Hammond said his government was building an economy “where prosperity and opportunity are in reach of all, wherever they live and whatever their gender, colour, creed or background” and “where talent and hard work alone determine success”
SAINTS have secured the services of Jordan Turner and Mark Percival.The centres have agreed deals which will see them contracted until the end of 2016 and 2015 respectively.Both made their debuts for Saints this season.Nathan Brown, Saints Head Coach, said: “Jordan has done well since he came to Saints and is continuing to improve and adapt to how we play. He is versatile too and has impressed us with his attitude both on and off the field.“Mark is a young home-grown player who has come into the team and done well. We’re pleased with how well he has adapted to the first team and now he needs to continue to work hard and keep his feet on the ground.”A former England under 18s Academy International and Captain, Turner joined Hull FC from Salford City Reds in 2010 before moving to Saints in 2012.He is predominately a centre but turned out for England Knights as a Stand Off at the end of the 2012 season.He’s scored five tries in 14 games so far this year and is also versatile enough to play in the back row.Academy International Mark Percival, 19, has already caught the eye with three tries and 12 goals in just seven appearances with the Saints.He is part of seven Academy players who have been given debuts this season.Anthony Walker, James Tilley, Jordan Hand, Dom Speakman, Luke Thompson and Duggie Charnock have all pulled on the Red V for the first time this year.And Joe Greenwood, Adam Swift and Nathan Ashe have all been given more game time.
SEAN Long says Saints were simply ‘out-enthused’ in their loss to Widnes on Friday night.“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “To put in two performances over the last week and then to turn up with the attitude we had was disappointing. Full credit to Widnes, it was probably the best I have seen them play in a long while. They played with a load of energy and we got out-enthused.“I thought we had enough sets in that second half to post more points but we didn’t execute and that cost us the game.“We didn’t throw enough shapes or challenge them enough. They defended well against us and showed more energy.“We also got mugged in the ruck. Over the last week we have been playing really quick and fighting to get quick play the balls. They were allowed to do that and we couldn’t get on the front foot as a result.“To be fair though we had plenty of chances to post points. The boys have been buzzing over the last week and have been training and playing well. The fans have been outstanding too and have got behind the team. But we took some weak options tonight and some short cuts we haven’t seen over the last few weeks.“We have put in good performances against Hull, Warrington, Wigan and Cas and not against the so called lower teams. If you turn up with the wrong attitude or not the right attitude then you come unstuck. There are no easy games in Super League.“We now must pick ourselves up for the Leigh game.”
To be held in England in October-November, organisers are aiming to draw in record crowds at the 2021 tournament, with the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions staged in a single, celebratory event – making it the biggest Rugby League World Cup yet.Earlier this year, St Helens Council and St Helens R.F.C – who currently sit top of the Super League table – were approached by the Rugby Football League (RFL) with a view for Saints’ 18,000 capacity Totally Wicked Stadium to bid to host group games at the men and women’s tournaments.Initial discussions with tournament organisers also resulted in the possibility of the borough hosting a team throughout the duration of the World Cup, using Ruskin Drive Sports Village and Saints’ training base at Cowley Language College as training bases.As part of the borough’s bid – which was officially announced during half-time of the Saints vs Warrington Wolves match late last month – St Helens would relish the opportunity to host a nation like Tonga, a rising world rugby league powerhouse currently ranked the fourth best international rugby league side in the world.Hosting the event in St Helens could have an economic benefit of between £2.4m-£4.5m and contribute to other strategic initiatives such as the St Helens town centre regeneration; raising the profile of St Helens; bring positive links to public health messages – and boost community engagement after 75 percent of local spectators felt that the World Cup enhanced community spirit when it was last in town in 2013.Commenting on the prospect of such a prestigious event returning to the borough, St Helens Council Leader Derek Long said: “Rugby League is in our DNA. That’s why I made winning a host venue a key priority in my first week as Council Leader. “This is a great bid founded on a great partnership with Saints. We will now work hard to use this to build a great sporting legacy for our clubs and communities across the borough.”Saints Chief Executive Mike Rush added: “To host a team and stage games here at The Totally Wicked Stadium would be a huge privilege for all connected with the club and town. “A World Cup Tournament brings people together and embraces so many different cultures that to play a part as a venue and host town would be of great benefit from grass roots community rugby right through to the commercial benefits that such an event attracts.“I am sure the whole of St Helens will get right behind our bid and we can all look forward to a fantastic Rugby League World Cup in 2021.”