Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Crippen hears how ROFA have put the call out for its DPO members to join the new DPO Forum 

Remember the last Minister for disabled people, er … what was his name? Justin Time? Justin Case? Ah, there we go, Justin Tomlinson. Well, if you remember he set up this Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO’s) Forum back in 2021. Don’t be surprised if you never heard of it as he closed it down again the same year! 

New Forum for DDPOs

Well, the disabled people who’d tried to get involved with this initiative only to have the rug pulled from under their feet, have organised and have met together independently to form their own DPO Forum. They describe themselves as a coalition of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) in England which engages with government to protect the rights of disabled people in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD). 

They’ve already set out their priorities for campaigning and holding Government to account and are currently meeting with Chloe Smith, the relatively new Minister for disabled people and civil servants from the Disability Unit and other Government Departments.  They also have a social care sub-group which is campaigning against care charging and for independent living. 

If you’re an organisation of disabled people and wish to join the DPO Forum then please email Reclaiming Our Future Alliance (ROFA) and they’ll make the connection for you.

Or alternatively, just join one of the meetings using the link below and introduce yourself. The DPO Forum England meets on the last Wednesday of the month – Here’s the link to the next meeting 3-5pm 27th July 2022: 

Join Zoom Meeting herehttps://us06web.zoom.us/j/81301107555 

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Two white males in grey suits are crouched down below a window through which you can see a meeting taking place. A sign in the meeting room reads ‘DPOs Forum Meeting’. A newspaper page has blown at the feet of the two men. On it is printed: ‘Stop Press – New DDPOs Forum to meet with new minister for disabled people’. The first male crouched below the window is Justin Tomlinson, the former minister for disabled people. He is saying: “Hang on a minute – I thought that I’d put a stop to all of that DPO’s nonsense when I was minister for the disabled?!”

Crippen hears about more dirty tricks played by benefits assessors!

Gasp, shock, horror! Conservative MP Dr Ben Spencer said he had been told that staff working for government contractors were setting traps at assessment centres to try to test claimants’ mobility.

DWP Dirty Tricks 2022

And playing along with this display of outrageous indignation we have our fairly new minister for disabled people Chloe Smith throwing her hands in the air and doing an impersonation of an owl (you should see the photo is the Disability News Service article!) and promising to carry out an urgent investigation into his claims!

Smith confirmed that she “did not recognise these tactics as legitimate parts of the assessment process” and said she was “concerned” to hear of the examples Spencer had provided (I bet!).

This isn’t new. Disabled claimants have been telling us about the underhand tricks employed by the likes of Atos and Capita for years, now it seems that the newest member of this cabal, the Disability Assessment Service are alleged to be doing the same.

Chloe Smith, the minister for disabled people, had been giving evidence to the Commons work and pensions select committee when Spencer (trust me I’m a doctor), a member of the committee, said he had been at an event that was taking evidence from disabled people who had been through the assessment process when he was told of “their perception that they were being covertly assessed”.

He said one claimant described to him how there had been water available at the assessment centre, but the water cooler did not have any cups, although the cooler at the end of the corridor did have cups, which Spencer said was a test “to see if the person was able to walk beyond the first water cooler to get some water”. Another claimant described the healthcare professional who was assessing them dropping a pen to see if they would pick it up “as part of a covert assessment, effectively, of their mobility”.

Don’t hold your beath waiting for the outcome of this latest disclosure. They’ll probably end up giving the assessors a bonus for being so creative!

You can read John Pring’s full account of this story in Disability News Service.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is outside of a lift on the third floor of the benefits assessment service. A large sign on the lift says: ‘out of order’. Standing in front of it is a white male in a grey suit, holding a clipboard on which he has been placing red crosses against items on a list. At his feet a red faced male figure is struggling on his hands and knees to climb to the top of a flight of stairs. In his hand he’s holding a crutch and he is gasping for breath. The man in the suit is saying to him: “ Ah ha – so you can use the stairs!”

Crippen discovers that nothing has changed with regard to benefits assessments!

So, it’s still going on. Over 72% of the negative decisions made by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with regard to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are being overturned at tribunal in favour of the claimant.

I can remember writing about this happening back in the day when it was mainly Atos who were denying claimants their rightful entitlement. Now it’s Capita and Independent Assessment Services carrying on the tradition.

Following the release of the Tribunal Statistics Quarterly: January to March 2022, earlier this month which detailed the overturn figures in favour of claimants for PIP and ESA, Labour MP Kate Osamor, asked the DWP:

“what assessment are being made of the performance of Capita and Independent Assessment Services?”

In a written response, Ms Smith, said:

“There is a comprehensive performance regime which drives the Assessment Providers to meet stringent quality standards. Through robust contract management processes and by working in partnership, we continually monitor and work with APs to manage performance and obtain maximum value.”

Now, maths isn’t my strong point but if the DWP were to just give the benefits to those disabled people that claimed, rather than pay an independent assessor to wrongly assess them, then pay court costs on the top of that, surely it will be a lot cheaper in the long run? Or is that too simple?

What do you mean that I’m forgetting those Tory MPs who have got their grubby little fingers in the lucrative assessment pie … surely not?!


You can appeal a decision about your entitlement to benefits, for example PIP, ESA and Universal Credit – read more about the process here.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is the office of the Independent Assessment Services (IAS). Two white males wearing grey suits are sat at computer terminals. They are surrounded by failed PIP and ESA claim forms. One of the men has wheelchair symbols on the sides of his desk with a cross through them. A white woman wearing a purple business suit and an identity badge with DWP written upon it is standing behind him. She is saying: “You’re a natural at this type of work – how do you fancy coming and working for the DWP?!”

Crippen: Is the EHRC not fit for purpose?!

A suggestion that the UK’s human rights body is actually in bed with the UK government has been made this week by disabled activists.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) told an international human rights alliance that the UK’s “feeble” human rights body has become a cheerleader for the UK government. They added that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was “not fit for purpose”, that it had been “co-opted” by the government, and that its primary mission appeared to be to “avoid rocking the boat”.

DPAC said the commission “no longer has credibility”, had “betrayed the communities that need it most” and no longer had the confidence of Deaf and disabled people.

In a letter to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) on behalf of DPAC, Stonewall and the Good Law Project, law firm Bindmans criticises EHRC’s “lack of actual and perceived independence” from the government.

The letter went on to say that the commission has been seen as “increasingly close to, and unwilling to criticise” the government since 2015 and particularly since the election of a Boris Johnson-led government in 2019. A “crucial factor”, it says, has been the appointment of EHRC commissioners who are “broadly supportive of the current Government and its agenda”.

Its evidence has been backed by four other disabled people’s organisations and two  disability groups:  Liberation, Being the Boss, Bringing Us Together, adult social care warriors, DPAC Norfolk and Chronic Illness Inclusion.

Among the concerns raised by DPAC is EHRC’s refusal to carry out an investigation into countless deaths of disabled benefit claimants that have been linked to the failings of the Department for Work and Pensions, despite “ample evidence”.

It also highlights its failure to act on the disproportionate application of do not attempt resuscitation orders on disabled people during the pandemic, and the failure to take action to ensure that disabled people’s right to independent living is upheld.

You can read more on this story in Disability News Service.


Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A dishevelled Boris Johnson is standing with a piece of paper on which is written ‘disability policies and legislation’. He is smiling. Opposite him stands a smarter man similarly dressed in grey suit, white shirt and blue tie and carrying a briefcase with EHRC printed upon it. He is holding out a large rubber stamp to the PM which has ‘EHRC Approved’ printed upon it. He is saying:” There you go Prime Minister – just rubber stamp it yourself!

Crippen: Tories have had the brakes put on their disability policies

The government has decided to “pause” some of its disability policies after being told by the High Court in January that its National Disability Strategy was unlawful.

You’ll remember that the High Court had ruled that both a botched national consultation – carried out under the previous minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson – and the strategy itself were unlawful and made it “impossible” for disabled people to “shape” the content of the strategy.

The court concluded that thousands of disabled people who took part in the consultation were not given enough information about the government’s proposed strategy to allow them “intelligent consideration and response”.

The government had argued that the survey was just an information-gathering exercise.

In a letter sent out to stakeholders this week, and in a statement to parliament, the minister for disabled people, Chloe Smith, said the government had accepted that it needed to pause a “limited number of policies” that are referred to in the strategy or are linked to it.

She said this decision had been taken to “minimise the risk of acting inconsistently with the Court’s declaration” and that the government was still waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeal on whether it will be allowed to appeal the high court’s ruling.

So, let’s see how they wriggle out of this one … some more retrospective legislation perhaps?!

You can read more about this in Disability News Service

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith can be seen driving a small truck which is pulling a waggon full of government policies. The waggon is labelled ‘disability policies’ and the truck is labelled ‘Tories’. A man in a high court wig and gown is holding up his hand and is shouting STOP. Under his arm is a large High Court ruling document. The truck has screeched to a halt and the documents are tumbling out of the waggon. Smith is looking at us and is saying: “Those bloody disabled people and their court rulings are becoming quite a problem!”

Crippen: Accessibility by Royal Appointment

Due to the barriers that she’s now encountering in the palace and other properties of state, it seems that HM the Queen has joined our merry band of disabled people.

True many of her impairments are due to the aging process and you would have thought that they would have planned ahead a little bit and anticipated this. But it looks as though they didn’t and HM is now faced with innumerable stairways, high plinths leading to inaccessible thrones, extremely heavy crowns and other paraphernalia of state, and being expected to stand and then meet and greet an endless succession of sycophantic visitors.

Apparently she’s been offered the use of a wheelchair but doesn’t want to be seen as … well what?! They haven’t shared her comments in relation to this but one can assume that she doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable and dependent upon others (welcome to the stereotypes of disability ma-am). And anyway, ramped access and wide doors appear to be few and far between in the buildings that she frequents so a wheelchair would be about as useful to her as a pogo stick.

I was thinking of asking DAN to get in touch and offer to protest with her outside of Buck House. Although come to think of it she’s not got too good a track record when faced with disability in the ranks. Remember her two cousins that I blogged about a while back?  Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, who were admitted to a mental institution in Redhill, Surrey when Nerissa was aged 22, and Katherine was only 15 years old. Officially classed as imbeciles, they spent the rest of their lives locked away … with not even a visit from any of the royal family.

I’d keep an eye on Charlie ma-am, especially if he starts looking at brochures for care homes!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

HM Queen is sat inside of a palanquin which has been parked inside of a disabled parking bay. Four flunkies stand at each corner alongside of the carrying poles. A traffic warden is writing in his notebook and is saying to them: “I don’t care who she is – no blue badge means that she gets a fixed penalty!”

Crippen and Segregation by Stealth

Let’s face it. They’ve been trying to get us Crips off the streets for quite a while now. We’ve become such a pain in the arse for most of the disability status quo, and that includes government departments and those charities that claim to represent us, that there’s nothing they’d like better than to make us disappear from public view once again.

Segregation by Stealth

Well, they’ve achieved part of their plan. By imposing a lock-down when the Covid virus hit our shores some two years ago, we’ve been sheltering at home trying to keep ourself safe. We’ve adapted to ordering online and meeting up by using social media facilities like Zoom. If we have had to venture out we’ve all been masked up and keeping the recommended distance apart, hurrying back to the safety of our own homes as quickly as possible.

And then Boris decided that everything was OK. That it was safe to venture out and mingle, even throwing our masks away. Although many of us Crips didn’t trust these assurances and remained in our homes, still Zooming, and ordering online. Meanwhile those without a health condition that put them at serious risk from Covid could soon be seen cavorting around once more without masks and meeting up in large groups, attending concerts and generally returning to pre-Covid days.

And what’s happening? Well, Covid is once again rife amongst our population and people are dropping like flies. Admittedly, these are mainly of an age where they’ll experience something like bad flu symptoms and recover within a couple of weeks, achieving the ‘herd immunity’ that Boris and his cronies were advocating from the very start. But where has that left those of us with a health condition that makes us extremely vulnerable to the effects of the virus? Well, we’re having to isolate and impose stronger restrictions than we did at the very beginning. With thousands of people catching and spreading the virus amongst our family groups and local communities we are even more at risk than before, leaving us with no option but to remain within our homes and off the streets!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A group of people are tossing a large inflated Covid virus into the air. Music is playing from a small ghetto blaster and they are all laughing and jumping around. Through the window of an adjacent house can be seen two disabled people. One of them is saying: “It’s one of Boris’ new party games – pass the Covid parcel!”

Crippen hears from the Ukraine’s National Assembly of disabled people

As promised, here is a follow-up to the blog I recently posted about the plight of disabled people living in Ukraine. The European Disability Forum and the International Disability Alliance have managed to establish contact with the National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine who represent the 2.7 million disabled people living in Ukraine. As you can imagine the situation is pretty dire.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) report that:

There are almost three million disabled people registered in Ukraine who are now living in appalling conditions due to the invasion by Russia. Bomb shelters in Kiev are inaccessible, so disabled people are forced to stay at home, not knowing where they can go to be safe. Those [disabled people] living in institutions already cut off from their communities, risk being abandoned and forgotten.

The National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine on behalf of more than 100 organisations in the country has reached out to appeal to all organisations of disabled people to support humanitarian aid and join efforts to end the war.  A shortened version of their appeal reads:

Appeal to International Organisations of Disabled People 

Today we are seeing children and women dying in Ukraine; the Russian army is killing our sons, daughters, husbands, and wives; they are destroying our cities … carrying out hostilities … using methods of warfare … [which are] in violation of all the principles of international humanitarian law.

Every day Russian troops are deliberately firing at residential districts in our cities; women and children have to spend several days in a row in air-raid shelters; the captured cities and towns are struggling due to the lack of water, food and medicines. The invaders prevent civilians, including disabled people, from leaving their towns and cities, and use them as human shields: they place military vehicles and equipment next to civilian buildings and people’s’ houses. 

Over many years disabled people from different countries have stood together to fight for their rights. Disabled people’s organisations have huge experience in upholding those rights. Today in Ukraine, people with disabilities and disabled people’s organisations are helping our State and are standing shoulder to shoulder with our defenders … Yesterday we received information that a wheelchair user who is a son, father and husband, was killed near Kiev when defending his family and his home.

We call upon you, representatives of disabled people’s organisations in different countries, to support us in our fight for peace. We want peace!

We are asking you to be our voice in your countries … Support us, spread the truth in your countries, urge your governments to … help to defend peace in our country. 

National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPDU)

Kyiv, March 1, 2022 

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

An electric wheelchair user is sat alone in a war torn landscape. In front of him is an open hatchway with a ladder leading down into its depths. A sign reading ‘bomb shelter’ is printed on the inside of the hatchway lid with a large white arrow pointing down. He is looking perplexed.

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen: DAN says, “Our lives are not disposable!”

Rising once again like a Phoenix from the ashes, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) are to hold a Free Our People memorial action in Parliament Square, London, with the slogan ‘Our Lives are not Disposable!’.

This reunion action which is taking place at 13.30 hrs on Friday 18th March 2022 will focus on the fact that 60% of those people in the UK who have died due to the Covid-19 virus have been disabled people. This does not include the thousands of others that have died due to an overstretched NHS, benefit cuts and sanctions, and care support becoming scarcer.

DAN has always fought for emancipation and against the routine institutionalisation and oppression of disabled and older people. Especially now, when it has been calculated that over 43,000 people living in adult care homes in the UK died as a direct result of Covidduring the first 12 months of the pandemic. DAN were also especially vocal when disabled people were given ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ notices when taken into hospital with Covid. These notices were usually without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

You can contact DAM for more details of the action by email.

Bring your organisation’s banner and bring your friends and allies. The more the merrier!

A BBC television film called ‘Then Barbara met Alan’ will be released after the action on Sunday 20th March which relates the history of DAN.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A red, yellow and orange coloured Phoenix is rising from flames clutching smouldering copies of proposals made by disabled people. These include ‘a fully integrated and accessible public transport system’ and also ‘centres for independent living throughout the UK’. Above its head are the letters D A N. Underneath the flames is the statement ‘When the government burn our proposals then like the Phoenix we rise from the ashes!’

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND

Crippen reaches out to our disabled brothers and sister in the Ukraine

Back in 2009 I was approached by a young disabled man living in war torn Afghanistan asking me if I could produce some cartoons to highlight the dire circumstances in which they were living. This cartoon was one of several that I created for him and which he used to good effect to attract international attention to the plight of disabled people in his country.

Ukraine: crippencartoons.com

I’ve recently sent out some feelers to our disabled brothers and sister in the Ukraine and am still waiting for a response. Quite a lot of their infrastructure has been hit and things that we take for granted being able to do, such as texting and emailing are no longer an option for many of them.

The Ukrainian government were only just starting to make inroads into improving access for disabled people and it goes without saying that this is now going to be low down on their list of priorities. Although with the use of illegal cluster munitions being used by the Russian forces, many more Ukrainians will now be joining our ranks, including many children, as a result of the carnage that these weapons inflict upon them.

I’ll let you know when I hear back from my contacts over there especially with regard to anything we can do to help them get through this nightmare. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is a war torn landscape with bombers flying overhead and dropping their sticks of bombs. Black oily clouds climbs into the sky alongside bombed out buildings. In the middle is a lone wheelchair user looking down at a single plank laid across a deep bomb crater. A sign over his head reads ‘In Afghanistan – it’s access, but not as we know it!’ However, the word ‘Afghanistan’ is crossed through and written over the top of it is ‘Ukraine’.

© 2022. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence –  CC BY-NC-ND