A report by Disability News Service has revealed that representatives of a number of charities gave evidence to MPs regarding the impact of social security reforms on disabled people without informing them that they had signed contracts preventing them from “attacking” the DWP or Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
Senior figures from the Shaw Trust and the Disability Benefits Consortium both answered questions about the government’s new Work and Health Programme to the Commons pensions select committee on Thursday, but did not make any reference to the contracts they have signed, which could reasonably be seen as preventing them from criticising the actions of McVey or the DWP.
The report notes that the DNS alerted the select committee to the existence of the contracts two days before the meeting took place, but the chair, Frank Field, failed to make mention of them or state on the record that the contractual agreements existed.
A number of charities, including the Shaw Trust, Leonard Cheshire, and the RNIB confirmed to DNS that they had signed contracts, either with the DWP or one of their five main contractors, which included clauses that prevent them from “attracting adverse publicity” to the DWP or McVey.
In the contract signed by the Shaw Trust, it states that the charity must “pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of McVey and agree not to do or say anything which would compromise the public’s confidence in her or the DWP.
A spokesperson for the charity told the DNS that the clause “does not and has not impinged on our independence as a charity.”
They said: “Shaw Trust’s spokesperson gave evidence informed by the direct frontline experiences of our staff.”
The spokesperson declined to comment as to why the member of the Shaw Trust present during the committee did not mention the clause.
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