Leeds hotline for the disabled falls victims to funding cuts

The Leeds City Skyline...16th August 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

The Leeds City Skyline...16th August 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

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A hotline offering advice for disabled people in Leeds is looking for alternative ways to remain open after the council decided to cut funding to the service.

The Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) has been providing information for disabled people for 37 years.

Disabled people will be central to shaping this future and we would like to hear from anyone who is able to help.

Kath Harrison, manager of DIAL

But due to budget pressures on statutory services, Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care department has announced that it will not be renewing its contract with the hotline at its end in March 2017.

DIAL is now working with a range of experts from the council and Leeds University Business School to find a means of staying open from April.

And the service is calling on the public to offer their views and ideas at the organisation’s 37th Annual General Meeting next month.

Kath Harrison, manager of DIAL, said: “Adult Social Care commissioners are working with us alongside a range of individuals with key skills to ensure that DIAL survives and thrives.

“All paid staff are currently on redundancy notices.

“The future of our unique disability information, advice and support delivered by disabled people depends on DIAL being able to identify and secure sustainable funding and alternative income streams.

“Your views on what you think we should offer for disabled people in the future are really important to us.

“Disabled people will be central to shaping this future and we would like to hear from anyone who is able to help.”

The meeting will be held at St Chad’s Parish Centre, Otley Road, at 1pm on December 5.

There will be presentations from Leeds University’s Business School and Leeds Beckett University architectural technology students as well as a range of supporters of the service.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said the decision not to renew the contract followed cuts to funding as part of the Government’s Autumn Statement last year.

He added: “As part of a review of what can still be delivered with the increasingly pressured resources available to the council, we have had to take the difficult decision that the disability information and advice service contract will not be renewed.

“This decision was reached following careful consideration of the range of support available elsewhere within the city, including services offered through Advice Leeds, the contract led by Citizens Advice Leeds.

“Advice Leeds already deal with a substantial number of disabled people to offer information, advice and support.

“Support is also available through the Welfare Rights Unit within Leeds City Council.”