DPOs take management after Tomlinson ‘shuts down his personal discussion board’ – Incapacity Information Service

Disability Organizations (DPOs) across England have set up their own national network after the Minister for Disabled People apparently closed his DSB advisory forum after just three meetings.

The government’s DSB Forum has not met since October last year, despite the imminent release of the government’s long-delayed national disability strategy.

Minister for Disabled People, created just last July, Justin Tomlinson, said at the time that “it will play an important role in putting the voices and expertise of disabled people at the center of government policy.”

He added: “I look forward to working with this new DSB Forum in developing the National Strategy for People with Disabilities, the DWP Green Paper and beyond.”

But after repeated cancellations of meetings, some members of the forum have now set up their own replacement, the DPO Forum England.

Among their ongoing concerns, they believe that the government is preparing to launch its new intergovernmental disability strategy without significant consultation with the DPAs, in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Four disabled people have already received legal aid for a judicial review of the government’s “disrespectful” and “unlawful” approach to seeking their views on the strategy.

Members of the new forum include the Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel, the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA), Inclusion London, The Alliance for Inclusive Education, Equal Lives, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Disability Positive in Cheshire.

ROFA’s Mark Harrison said the government forum – which he believes is not a DSB forum at all as some of its affiliates are not run and controlled by disabled people – has not met since it met for the third time last October.

He said: “We decided to continue as the DSB forum ourselves, so we have taken control.

“We wanted to give the data protection officers in England a much stronger voice, not only to tell the truth to power, but also to hold power to account.”

He said he hoped the work of the new forum would support other strategic actions by the disability movement in England, including direct action from organizations like DPAC, the legal challenge to the disability strategy, and campaigns around independent living and fees for care, including the push for a new national service in support of independent living.

Harrison said Tomlinson had advised members of the government DPO forum that his future was being reviewed and further meetings would be canceled until further notice.

He said this “smoke and mirrors” approach is “what we want the government to do”.

Harrison said Tomlinson apparently closed the forum after members asked to lead it with reasonable assignments, a disciplined approach, a work program and a strategic approach to disabilities.

He said, “There was no discipline, no notion of coproduction with the Agenda.”

He added, “When people disagree with their worldview, [the government] just switch off and carry on. They did that with the DPO forum. “

The other leading DPAs to join the new forum so far are Breakthrough UK, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Disability Rights UK, Choices and Rights Disability Coalition, Disability Stockport, West of England Center for Inclusive Living and Sisters of Frida.

The government’s disability department had not commented until noon today (Thursday).

Pictured: Mark Harrison (left) and Justin Tomlinson

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