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Charities complain about 'gagging orders' banning them from criticising govt

Wed 17 Oct 2018
By Cara Bentley

Thousands of charities have been asked to sign gagging clauses that demand them to not criticise welfare reform.

Many foodbanks and poverty charities help those who are struggling to cope with the changes to the welfare system, with organisations such as Trussell Trust criticising those changes and calling for the government to rethink how benefits are introduced.

However, The Times have uncovered that hundreds of charities have been forced to sign gagging clauses which prevent them from criticising the Department for Work and Pension - who introduced the policy, and their Secretary of State, Esther McVey.

Groups representing 7,000 charity leaders opposed the practise and have said they must be able to "speak truth to power".

Christian Aid are one of the charities who signed a letter in the Times, with all signatories saying the gagging clauses have "the potential to prevent civil society speaking out on behalf of vulnerable people".

They added: "Universal credit affects the lives of thousands, and it is more important than ever that charities are free to represent a range of voices. We urge the government to end the use of anti-advocay clauses across all government departments.

"Civil society, and the people it serves, must be able to tackle the cause of problems, not just address the solutions."

Friends of the Earth and Shelter also signed the letter.

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