Crippen hears how Citizens Advice signed ‘gagging clause’ in exchange for £21 million from DWP

The national advice charity Citizens Advice have signed a £21 million contract which included a “gagging clause” that prevented it bringing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “unfairly” into “disrepute”, an official document has finally confirmed.

This document has only been released following pressure from our good friends at Disability News Service (DNS) who complained to the information commissioner that the DWP had resisted a freedom of information request to see the agreement.

Citizens Advice signed the Help to Claim contract last year, extending its agreement with DWP to provide support to people making a new claim for universal credit by another year. It shows that Citizens Advice agreed not to take any actions that “unfairly bring or are likely to unfairly bring [DWP’s] name or reputation and/or [DWP] into disrepute”.

The document again highlights the ongoing concerns over charities that sign lucrative DWP contracts that contain gagging clauses but still claim to represent and speak on behalf of disabled people and other benefit claimants.

Read more about this in DNS with comments from Manchester’s Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Dr Jay Watts, a disabled activist and consultant clinical psychologist (@Shrink_at_Large).

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is set in a Citizens Advice office. A young Asian woman is sat at a table holding a piece of paper with ‘PIP’ and several question marks on it. A large question mark floats above her head. She is carrying a deaf/blind cane in her other hand. Sitting opposite her is a white male in a grey suit. He has his mouth taped up and is tethered like a puppet with strings leading to a cross piece above his head. Holding the cross piece is Therese Coffey, secretary of state for the DWP. She is standing on a large sack of money that has ‘£21 million pounds’ printed on it and is holding a document that has ‘gagging clause’ printed upon it. A large sign on the wall states that this is the Citizens Advice Bureau – the charity for the community. The word ‘community’ has been crossed out and replaced by the letters DWP!

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