A commissioner’s guide to developing and sustaining local user-led organisations
Understanding ULOs: How are ULOs organised?
ULOs may be organised in a range of ways; there is no fixed model. What is fundamental to a ULO is that, as an absolute minimum, over 50 per cent of the management committee or board must be people who use support services. For a ULO to meet the Department of Health’s original design criteria and the definition used by the Office for Disability Issues, at least 75 per cent of the management committee should be people who use services.
Structure of ULOs
ULOs may be structured in a variety of ways including:
- a single organisation
- a formal partnership between two or more organisations
- a hub and spoke model where a number of organisations contribute to the ULO at the centre.
It all depends on local conditions and the history of service user activism in the community. In some localities, there is a strong ULO with a history of supporting people who use services to achieve independent living. In other localities, several organisations may exist, some of which may be impairment or social care service user group specific. These ULOs often do not want to lose their individual identity but are prepared to contribute to a central ULO or be part of a network of ULOs.
Legal basis for ULOs
There are a number of legal forms a ULO may take including:
- registered charity
- company limited by guarantee
- a charity and a company limited by guarantee
- charitable incorporated organisation
- community interest company
- social enterprise
It is also often the case that ULOs are not (yet) legally constituted organisations. A considerable number of ULOs would fall beneath the lower income threshold of £25,000 used by the Charity Commission to mean significantly reduced annual returns are required by the Commission.
Again it will depend on local conditions and the opinions of the people who use services involved. For more information on the legal forms of ULOs, see 'Different models for ULO organisations' produced by Choice & Rights Disability Coalition in Hull.