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How can you trust Citizens Advice help on Universal Credit when you know the organisation has agreed not to say anything about it that harms the Conservative government’s reputation?

You can’t.

The ‘gagging’ contract that Citizens Advice signed in return for £51 million of government funding does stipulate that it is only banned from anything that brings the government “unfairly” into disrepute – but who defines those terms?

It seems clear that this was an attempt to guarantee the silence of the largest organisation dealing with the mountain of problems created by the fundamentally-flawed Universal Credit disaster.

If someone dies as a result of this nightmare of a policy, and Citizens Advice knows about it, may we expect that organisation to do its public duty and blow the whistle?

Or will it cover up the facts, for fear of upsetting the Tories – and perhaps losing some of that fat funding formula?

Never mind the Tory government’s reputation. Before putting pen to paper, the bosses of Citizens Advice should have thought of their own.

Two charities that will receive £51 million in government funding to provide advice and support to claimants of universal credit (UC) signed gagging clauses that prevent them bringing the Department for Work and Pensions “unfairly” into “disrepute”.

Both Citizens Advice (CA) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) signed grant agreements with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – worth a total of £51 million – that include the same clause.

By signing the documents, it means they cannot take “any actions which unfairly bring or are likely to unfairly bring [DWP’s] name or reputation and/or [DWP] into disrepute”.

Copies of the agreements signed last year by CA and CAS have been obtained from DWP by social welfare activist Frank Zola using the Freedom of Information Act.

He told Disability News Service (DNS) that the grant “does little more than help some people claim universal credit and not address its inherent flaws, it just helps impose UC misery on its service users, through this £51,000,000 bribe.

“Citizens Advice provides help to large numbers of those punished by universal credit, such as disabled people and families who have ended up losing thousands of pounds by claiming UC, vast rises in debt, rent arrears, evictions, survival crime, five week delays in first payments and the horror of its inbuilt benefit sanctions and excessive conditionality.

“Against this background, does Citizens Advice campaign and advocate for universal credit to be stopped and abolished?

“No, it decides to act as a mere duplicitous adjunct of the DWP and even agrees to a grant gagging clause that prevents them from being critical of the DWP.”

Source: Citizens Advice signed gagging clause in return for share of £51m from DWP – Disability News Service

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