A commissioner’s guide to developing and sustaining user-led organisations

SCIE Guide 36

Published: June 2010

Updated: July 2013

Welcome to this guide for local authority commissioners on how to develop and sustain local user-led organisations (ULOs). There is now a stronger case than ever before, underpinned by practice and evidence, for local authorities to invest in and work with ULOs. We hope that you will find the information in this guide a useful way of helping you develop and strengthen ULOs in your local area.

ULOs are essential to the transformation of adult social care. The Life Chances report from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit (2005) made the original recommendation that "each locality should have a user-led organisation" (recommendation 4.3, 'Improving the life chances of disabled people'). As part of the Putting People First agenda milestones (in effect until March 2010), local authority commissioners were to make sure they have worked to develop and sustain ULOs by December 2010. This was captured in the Department of Health’s Local Authority Circular no.1 (2008) as follows: "Where user led organisations do not exist, a strategy to foster, stimulate and develop these locally should be developed". This intent has since been reaffirmed in the publication of the Care and Support White Paper: 'A vision for adult social care: capable communities and active citizens' and other policy documents, as well as in the creation of a dedicated programme to support and strengthening User-Led Organisations at the Office for Disability Issues.

The original guidance from SCIE helped commissioners to meet this policy requirement. This updated guidance reflects updated policy, practice and evidence regarding ULOs and:

In this guide


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following download you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • A commissioner's guide to developing and sustaining user-led organisations