WEEKLY RANT: Bullying Charities into Silence

More information on the government’s determination to silence criticism from the charity sector. Not only was Chris Mould, the head of the Trussell Trust, told to keep his mouth shut about rising levels of poverty in 2011, he was told again last year, in 2013. The DWP uses its own vouchers to refer people to food banks, not those of the Trussell Trust, because the charity’s record the reason for the referral. And Conor Burns went off on a rant about Oxfam’s latest advert being political, because calling attention to poverty and homelessness gives the impression that Tory policies don’t work. So when all else fails, silence the critics.

sturdyblog

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I came across a pair of absolutely outrageous stories last night.

The first is that Chris Mould, chair of the Trussell Trust, giving evidence to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector yesterday, said that the charity decided to tone down its criticisms of the benefit system after they were threatened by officials. He said that in a face-to-face conversation in March 2013 with “someone in power”, he was told that he must think more carefully otherwise “the government might try to shut you down”.

He gave a second example. In 2011 he received a phone call on his day off “from someone in the Secretary of State’s office which was basically to tell me that the boss was very angry with us because we were publicising the concerns we have over the rising number of people who were struggling as a consequence of delays and inefficiencies in…

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