Crippen hears about the disabled fighter who sent in the bailiffs

A disabled benefits claimant has successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of duty of care and then sent in the bailiffs when they failed to pay up, the Disability News Service (DNS) has revealed.

The claimant, known as Rebecca, went to the County Court to ask for compensation because of the two year fight she had to get her PIP reinstated, after it was wrongly stopped following a PIP assessment in 2018.

Fortunately, she had recorded her assessment which was listened to by an appeal panel, who then compared it to the assessor’s account of what had been said. The panel then found in Rebecca’s favour, restoring her entitlement to the enhanced rate of the PIP daily living component until 2023.

Rebecca was so angry at the treatment she had received from Atos that she sued them through the County Court for ‘mental distress, anxiety and hardship’. Atos made no attempt to defend the claim.

The County Court found in Rebecca’s favour and awarded her compensation of eight per cent of the arears and a further £1,000 in damages. The final total was £2,500.

When Atos failed to pay up, Rebecca arranged for enforcement officers to visit their offices in London, resulting in an extra £2,000 in costs to the company, which finally had to pay up.


You can read the full story on the DNS website

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A white male in a grey suit and orange tie is being propelled into the air by a large mechanical boot kicking him up the back-side. He is wearing an ID tag which has ATOS printed upon it. At his feet are numerous failed PIP applications. He is also losing hold of a large sheet of paper which reads ‘County Court Order’. The extended arm of the mechanical boot comes from a large crowd of disabled people who appear to be controlling it. They are saying: “About time that these parasites got a kick up the back-side!”

Crippen has some interesting responses to his last Blog …

Been getting some interesting responses from my latest DAO Blog posting about the question asked in the National Disability Survey about being happy about having a physical relationship with a disabled person.

One response has acquainted it to asking a white person if they would be happy having a physical relationship with a black person; something that would have sent so many discrimination alarm bells ringing within the mainstream press. But of course, as we all know, disabled people don’t really have any real rights, do we?!

Comments about Adam’s reference to “low level eugenics thinking” also hit the spot with quite a few of us Crips. I suppose the question is encouraging people to say they wouldn’t have a child with a disabled person for fear the child would be disabled – and that could be interpreted as ‘eugenics thinking’?

A comment by our feisty mate and fellow activist Nabs Sil in Facebook adds another twist:

“I certainly won’t be doing this neo-fascist survey. Obviously, if the State has an agenda for culling “Useless Eaters”, as people like me were described in Hitler’s Third Reich, it needs to know what targets it should be aiming for.”

Unfortunately, the petition set up by The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (I included a link in the Blog posting) seems to present a few access difficulties, so some folks have been unable to use this to express their own feelings about this debacle.

Here’s a solution. Why not use the comment section on this Blog and I’ll gather your responses together and create an overall look at how we all feel about this … over to you guys.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

It is the office of the Crips Own Disability Survey team. A young Asian man is at a desk covered in returned survey forms. He is holding up a couple in his hands and is saying to a white female wheelchair user with spiky pink hair who is sitting alongside of him: “And they all agree that they wouldn’t have a physical relationship with a member of this government!” The woman is replying: “Enough said”

Crippen and the continuing National Disability Survey fiasco

Not content with launching a national disability survey that has only had at best, a tokenistic involvement with disabled people, the government’s Disability Unit has revealed a side of itself that has overtones of “low level eugenic thinking” according to disabled journalist Adam Pearson.

The survey was launched on 15 January and the responses received up until the end of last week are supposed to be influencing the government’s national disability strategy, which is expected to be published this spring.

They claim that more than 14,500 people have so far completed the survey, which has already led to a series of letters to ministers from disabled people’s organisations, criticising it for being rushed, inaccessible, over-long and poorly-planned.

But those aren’t the only complaints. Apparently if you don’t click the box indicating that you are a disabled person, the on-line survey assumes that you’re non-disabled and starts asking you, what some have described as “degrading” and “insulting” types of questions.

For example, if you are a non-disabled person the disability unit want to know: “would you be happy to have a physical relationship with a disabled person?”

With his tongue obviously very firmly in his cheek, Adam told ministers he was “assuming this is an error that ‘slipped though the cracks’ and you don’t intend to use this low level eugenic thinking to inform your disability strategy”.

However, in an article in Disability News Service (DNS) a government spokesperson when asked if the question on relationships had now been removed, said: “The question on relationships has NOT been removed and as with all questions within the survey, was developed to ensure that we gather as wide a range of direct insight and lived experience from disabled people, carers and the general public as possible.”

Ah, so there’s your answer Adam. It wasn’t a mistake!

Note: The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) are inviting you to sign their petition, challenging the government to come clean about this farcical  survey.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

It is the office of the Disability Unit’s National Disability Survey team. A young white man is at a desk covered in returned survey forms. He is holding up a couple in his hands and is saying to an Asian woman who is standing alongside of him: “It’s another one saying that they’d want a physical relationship ONLY with a disabled person!” The Asian woman is replying: “Perverts!”

Crippen discovers that children with special educational needs are being failed in Northern Ireland

It seems that the problems with regard to so called special educational needs (SEN) are not just confined to the UK mainland. Our disabled brothers and sisters and their families over in Northern Ireland are getting the short end of the stick too.

A recent report by a cross-party committee claims that “there are elements of dysfunctionality within the Northern Ireland Education Authority (EA) and that they are failing children with special educational needs (SEN) and their families.

The Stormont Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended that the Department of Education (DE) hold an independent review of the EA to assess its effectiveness. The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) further questioned if the Education Authority’s procedures for pupils with SEN were “fit for purpose”. This followed an apology by the EA in February last year,  after a damning internal report found a number of failings in its SEN services.

The NI Audit Office also found that the 26-week statutory limit for assessment and statementing of children was breached in the vast majority of cases. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) on the committee also found “systemic problems” with provision for children with SEN.

More than 67,000 school children have a reported SEN, while 19,200 with the most serious needs have a statement of SEN outlining the support they are to receive in school. The EA had spent £1.3bn on SEN in the past five years, with costs rising every year.

The PAC said that while the educational achievements of those children had risen, there were many failings in the way they were supported by the department and the authority.

“PAC remains concerned at the number of children that have been failed and how long these failings have been allowed to continue for,” their report said.

The committee chair, DUP MLA William Humphrey, said that there was a culture within the EA “that has allowed it to continually deliver a sub-standard service for far too long”.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is an office at the Northern Ireland Education Authority. An Asian woman is indicating a young woman who is standing at the entrance with her son who has Down’s Syndrome. A white male in a suit and tie is sat at a desk and is saying: “We’ve told her that he’s special – what more does she want?!”

Crippen hears that a secret report casts doubt on DWP’s ‘no duty of care’ claim

You’ll recall I blogged last October about how Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) boss Theresa Coffey insisted that they had no legal duty of care to disabled benefit claimants? Well, she’s at it again, even though one of the DWPs own secret reports states clearly that it does.

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey has repeatedly told MPs that her department does not have a legal duty to “safeguard” its claimants, and that such tasks are instead the responsibility of local agencies such as social services and doctors’ surgeries.

Her repeated denials have come following a decade of distressing cases which have linked DWP’s policies and practices to the deaths of disabled people, particularly those being assessed for employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payment.

Now Disability News Service (DNS) has discovered that a secret report, probably completed in 2014, has shown a DWP civil servant discussing the department’s “ongoing Duty of Care” to claimants of incapacity benefit who were being reassessed for ESA.

It recommends a review of DWP’s “ongoing Duty of Care in relation to the identification and support of claimants required to participate in the Incapacity Benefit reassessment (IBR) process, who as a result of a [redacted] may be vulnerable and have different or additional support needs.”

It continues: “When defined, the Duty of Care should be brought to the attention of all colleagues including those (others) … who are involved in the IBR Process …”

The redacted report was one of 49 released to Disability News Service (DNS) by DWP following a protracted freedom of information battle that ended in 2016 with DNS winning an appeal to the information rights tribunal. Despite the existence of the report, Coffey and her department continue to insist that there is no such legal duty of care.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey is standing in the house of commons facing her peers. She is saying: “We have never had a legal duty of care to benefits claimants!”. A colleague is standing behind her and is tapping on her shoulder. He’s holding a document that says ‘DWP duty of care’. He’s saying to her: “Excuse me boss – we need you to sign this ongoing duty of care!”.

Crippen hears about recruitment drive for disabled astronauts

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist it. Sending Crips into space … it’s just got to be another way they’ve come up with to get rid of us (or a great idea for a cartoon anyway!).

European space chiefs have launched their first recruitment drive for new astronauts in 11 years, with particular emphasis on encouraging women and disabled people to join missions to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

And why not? Just think about it. Who else will have developed the problem solving skills that we have, as a result of negotiating our way through the machinations of a disabling society?!

But, apart from that, think about the benefits of experiencing weightlessness for those of us with physical impairments as we drift through space. No need for our clunky wheelchairs or walking aids; no more hoists or sliding boards. We just float everywhere.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A large rocket is filled with disabled people who are peering out of a large round porthole. Wheelchairs and crutches are scattered on the ground before it. On the rocket is printed ESA (for European space agency), a large wheelchair symbol and the words ‘Mars Mission’. A piece of paper lies on the floor with ‘news – disabled into space’ printed upon it and up in the sky is a large red planet. Boris Johnson is about to press a plunger to send them into space. Alongside of him is Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) who is wearing a name badge and who is saying: “But if you send them all away who’ll be left to blame and persecute?!”

Crippen joins accusers – Disability Unit guilty of ‘shameful manipulation’

You just couldn’t make it up! Not content with misleading other MPs about the so called “success” of the nine regional stakeholder networks across England, the Disability Unit have sent out desperate emails to the Chairs of its regional disability networks, begging for positive accounts of how its policies have improved disabled people’s lives.

The government’s email asks the network chairs: “We are looking for disabled people who would be willing to write up to 100 words about how they have achieved their aspirations, and if there has been a government policy that has supported them to do so.”

Disability News Service reports that it was sent out as the 13th February deadline approached for disabled people around the country to respond to the government’s national disability survey.

Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of the disabled people’s and service-user network Shaping Our Lives, said the note sent to the network chairs was “a shameful manipulation of reality”.

He said: “Only this government could choose a time when disproportionate numbers of disabled people are dying as a result of its disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to ask disabled people to send in accounts of their successes to bolster its own appalling record on disability issues.

“If this government wants the truth then let it commission disabled people to carry out independent research on trends in our life chances.”

Mark Harrison, from the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA), said the Disability Unit’s note “smacks of desperation”.

He said: “The fact that they are writing to the chairs of the networks asking for good news stories suggests to me that the feedback coming from surveys that are being filled out is not what the government wants to hear.

“They are putting a PR gloss on 10 years of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights and retrogression against most of the articles of the UN convention [on the rights of disabled people].”

Read the full story in Disability News Service.

 Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Several civil servants are in the office of the Disability Unit. A large sign on the wall says, ‘Disability Unit – National Disability Survey team’. They are knee deep in returned survey forms all baring an unhappy-smiley face symbol. One of the men is holding up a single piece of paper with a happy-smiley face upon it. He is saying: “It’s OK guys we’ve got one positive response we can use – just ignore the rest!”

Crippen looks back at government cover-up regarding emergency preparedness

I’ve been corresponding with a young disabled student about some of my cartoons relating to government cover-ups, especially those affecting disabled people. One in particular got his attention, which was the one regarding Exercise Cygnus which I blogged about back in April 2020.

You’ll remember that Exercise Cygnus, which took place in October 2016, involved all major government departments, including the NHS and local authorities across Britain looking at their preparedness should we ever be hit with something like the Coronavirus pandemic.

The finished report showed gaping holes in Britain’s Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) plan. They found that there was not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the nation’s doctors and nurses. The NHS was about to “fall over” due to a shortage of vital equipment and critical care beds and morgues were set to overflow. The report also raised awareness that they would need to build in additional support for disabled people, older people, and those with underlying health issues.

Well, we know that no action was taken following this report, and that when the pandemic arrived on our shores four years later the powers that be just ran around like headless chickens claiming that they hadn’t seen it coming. 

Tell that to the thousands of disabled people who died of Covid related illness over the past 12 months. I’m not sure that they’d appreciate the irony!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Boris Johnson and Theresa May are standing together in front of a hill of earth covered by white crosses. A sign in front says, ‘6 out of 10 Covid deaths are disabled people’. May is carrying a piece of paper that has ‘Cygnus report’ written on it. Johnson is saying: “I keep telling them – we had no idea that this could happen!”

Crippen asks – Bias or what?!

The Right-wing influences are at it again with two new appointments to high ranking roles within the broadcasting industry and the launch of a new TV channel that has raised more than a few eyebrows.

One of the things that clouds the judgement of the general public when ever they read or hear anything to do with disability is the usual right-wing bias that accompanies the report. This can simply be the old stereotypes such as portraying us as needy and reliant upon the many charities that claim to represent us, or it could be something more sinister, like a hidden agenda (Ed: here he goes again!) orchestrated, let’s say by the spin doctors at Tory HQ.

Whether you believe that this bias exists or not, you have got to admit that the appointment of two top Tory supporters to powerful roles within our broadcasting industry smells of something that’s distinctly fishy!

It’s been revealed that Richard Sharp, former Goldman Sachs banker and adviser to the chancellor, has been lined up to be the next chairman of the BBC after Sir David Clementi steps down. Electoral Commission records show that this man has donated more than £400,000 to the Conservative Party since 2001, leading to accusations of cronyism and a clear bias.

This appointment comes at the same time that another Tory supporter  Paul Dacre gets set to become the new Ofcom chair.

Under his tenure at the Daily Mail, Dacre ran such provocative headlines as “The Swarm On Our Streets” in relation to migrants as well as peddling other nationalistic hyperbole such as “Migrants Spark Housing Crisis”,  along with many biased disablist articles.

And GB News, the new TV channel chaired by Andrew Neil, launches in the UK soon. Billed as the UK’s version of American right-wing channel Fox News and claims to be the biggest news TV channel to be created since Sky News went on air 30 years ago.

The channel has yet to broadcast any coverage, but it has already faced an attempted advertising boycott started by campaign group Stop Funding Hate following speculations that the channel will be similar to Fox News.

Just what we need. A new right-wing tv channel plus a top Tory running the BBC and both overseen by a Tory Ofcom regulator. No bias there then?!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A large newsroom with a sign identifying it as ‘GB News – we make the news’ is filled with journalists at their desks and laptops. The sign has been changed however to read ‘we invent the news!’ An editor has just entered the room with a piece of paper that has ‘News – Darce to head OFCOM’ printed on it. He is saying: “OK guys gloves off – OFCOM’s ours now so we can publish what we want again!”

Crippen hears that lack of Covid plan for disabled Australians a ‘serious failure’ of their government.

So, it’s not just here that governments are failing to consult with disabled people about the ramifications of the COVID pandemic. I recently had an email from one of my disabled friends in Australia telling me that they’ve been experiencing similar disregard from their government.

I had a dig around and discovered an article in the Guardian reporting that the Australian federal government has been sharply criticised by the disability royal commission for its “serious failure” in not adequately consulting disabled people or creating a specific plan to protect them at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those failings “produced serious adverse consequences for many disabled people”, the commission said in a report tabled in parliament on Monday.

At the start of the crisis no government agency “made any significant effort to consult with disabled people with or their representative organisations”, the report said.

“Even allowing for the novel challenges presented by the coronavirus, this was a serious failure.”

It said disabled people faced the “sudden loss of essential support services” and “impaired health and wellbeing” due to an “inability for prolonged periods to access essential supplies such as food and medications”.

Disabled people experienced “extreme stress and anxiety” stemming from the fear of contracting the virus because of support staffing issues and a lack of PPE.

So, there you go. We’re not alone in being ignored during this pandemic. Our Aussie friends are also feeling that they are just as expendable.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A white wheelchair user with a placard saying ‘we demand our rights’ is sat facing an Australian First Nation person. This person is stood next to a large rock on which is carved First Nation art and the slogan ‘rights for First Nation people’. He is wearing a red headband and loin cloth, carrying a boomerang and also wears traditional body paint. He is saying to the disabled man: “Best of luck getting your voice heard mate – they’ve been ignoring our rights since they first arrived!”