Author Topic: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey  (Read 843 times)

lankou

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Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« on: 19 Apr 2018 08:39PM »
You really could not make this up:-

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/charities-delivering-dwps-work-programme-must-promise-not-to-attack-mcvey/


Charities delivering DWP’s work programme ‘must promise not to attack McVey’
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By John Pring  on  April 19, 2018   Employment




 


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Disability charities that sign up to help deliver the government’s new Work and Health Programme must promise to “pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, official documents suggest.

The charities, and other organisations, must also promise never to do anything that harms the public’s confidence in McVey (pictured) or her Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Disability charities like RNIB, the Royal Association for Deaf People and Turning Point have agreed to act as key providers of services under the Work and Health Programme – which focuses on supporting disabled people and other disadvantaged groups into work – and so appear to be caught by the clause in the contract.

At least one of them – RNIB – has also signed contracts with one of the five main WHP contractors that contain a similar clause, which explicitly states that the charity must not “attract adverse publicity” to DWP and McVey.

The £398 million, seven-year Work and Health Programme is replacing the Work Programme and the specialist Work Choice disability employment scheme across England and Wales, with contractors paid mostly by results.

All the disability charities that have so far been contacted by Disability News Service (DNS) insist that the clause – which DWP says it has been using in such contracts since 2015 – will have no impact on their willingness to criticise DWP and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey or campaign on disability employment or benefits issues.

But the existence of the clause, and the first details to emerge of some of the charities that have agreed to work for DWP – which has been repeatedly attacked by disabled activists and academics for harassing and persecuting disabled people, and relying on a discriminatory benefit sanctions regime to try to force them into work – will raise questions about their ability and willingness to do so.

It will also raise questions about their independence when delivering future statements on these issues.

The clause was revealed through a freedom of information request by DNS, with DWP finally producing contracts signed by the five main Work and Health Programme contractors, four months after the request was first submitted.

The contracts signed by the five organisations – the disability charity Shaw Trust, the disability employment company Remploy (now mostly owned by the discredited US company Maximus), Pluss, Reed in Partnership and Ingeus UK – all include a clause on “publicity, media and official enquiries”.

Part of that clause states that the contractor “shall pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of DWP and ensure it does nothing to bring it “into disrepute, damages the reputation of the Contracting Body or harms the confidence of the public in the Contracting Body”.

The contract defines the “Contracting Body” as the work and pensions secretary, a position currently occupied by the much-criticised Esther McVey (see separate story).

And it warns that these promises apply whether or not the damaging actions relate to the Work and Health Programme, and it says they also apply to any of the contractor’s “Affiliates”.

This suggests that none of the organisations involved in providing services under the programme – and particularly those carrying out key elements of the contracts – will ever be allowed to criticise, or damage the reputation of, DWP or McVey during the course of the contract in connection with any area of the department’s work.

There is still considerable confusion over exactly how many disability charities will be paid to work for the five main contractors.

The contractual documents include the names of scores of organisations, including charities, local authorities, education providers and companies.

But some of the disability charities named – including Mencap and the National Autistic Society – made it clear this week that they have not agreed to carry out services under the Work and Health Programme, despite being named as “stakeholders” in the documents.

Other disability charities, though, have confirmed that they will be providing services under the WHP.

Among those organisations that have signed letters agreeing to provide services as a subcontractor for the Ingeus contract with DWP is the disability charity RNIB, which is currently “working on an agreement with them”, while it is already a subcontractor with Shaw Trust.

An RNIB spokeswoman said: “RNIB has a number of contracts for different services provided to the Shaw Trust as a sub-contractor.

“Some of the contracts do include a clause stating that when providing the services, we shall not do anything that may damage the reputation of the Shaw Trust (the contractor of the DWP) or of the DWP which has commissioned the services to be carried out by the Shaw Trust.”

That clause is almost identical to the one in the contracts signed by the five main contractors and says RNIB must not do anything to “attract adverse publicity” to DWP or “harm the confidence of the public” in DWP.

RNIB claimed that the clause “only refers to how we carry out the contracted services and does not restrict our campaigning ability. It relates solely to how we carry out the specific services.”

Another disability charity, the Royal Association for Deaf People (RADP), is described as a “core stakeholder” in the Pluss contract.

RADP had refused to answer questions about the contract by noon today (Thursday).

A third charity, Turning Point, is described as a “core stakeholder” in the Remploy contract, while it is also mentioned in the Ingeus and Shaw Trust contracts.

Turning Point had refused to answer questions about the contract by noon today (Thursday).

Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) – despite being mentioned in the Shaw Trust contract – says it has only agreed to provide support services in two London boroughs as part of the Ingeus contract.

An LCD spokesman said this work “in no way compromises our ability to campaign around issues related to payments or social care reform” or on the Work and Health Programme.

Action on Hearing Loss – formerly known as RNID – refused to comment on its presence in the Remploy contract with DWP, other than to praise its own campaigning work.

Business Disability Forum, which is mentioned in the Pluss contract, also refused to comment.

Remploy said the clause in its contract with DWP was “standard contractual language and has not impacted on our ability to support service users or engage with delivery partners”.

A Remploy spokesman said it was working “in collaboration with many organisations as we deliver the Work and Health Programme across Wales” and that the many stakeholders mentioned in the document were “public, private and third sector organisations across Wales that Remploy has identified and plans to engage with and signpost to as it delivers the Work and Health Programme”.

But he declined to say whether Remploy believed the clause also applied to its stakeholders and subcontractors.

Shaw Trust said the “publicity, media and official enquiries” clause had been present “in previous DWP contracts” and “does not and has not impinged on our independence as a charity”.

A Shaw Trust spokeswoman said the “stakeholders” named in the contract were “organisations we will engage with over the life of the contract to encourage voluntary referrals to the Work and Health Programme, or will engage to potentially source additional support to participants with wider requirements”.

She claimed that “no funds are proposed to be transferred in exchange for services” provided by these stakeholders, but she had not been able to clarify by noon today (Thursday) why these stakeholders would want to work for Shaw Trust for free.

A DWP spokeswoman appeared to suggest that the clause was partly intended to prevent those organisations providing services under the WHP from speaking out publicly to criticise DWP.

She said: “The department did not introduce this clause specifically for the Work and Health Programme contract.

“It has been used in DWP employment category contracts since 2015.

“The contract is the framework which governs the relationship with DWP and its contractors so that both parties understand how to interact with each other.

“The clause is intended to protect the best interests of both the department and the stakeholders we work with, and it does not stop individuals working for any of our contractors from acting as whistle-blowers under the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, nor does it prevent contractors from raising any concerns directly with the department.”

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #1 on: 19 Apr 2018 10:37PM »
I'm not convinced that from a legal standpoint it would work as a general gagging clause, although it rather depends on  how it's worded.  A court would have to place a normal, everyday meaning on it if it came to a breach of contract issue.

That being so, I'm not primarily concerned about clauses like that, I'm more concerned about issues like whether the charities in question are willing to speak up over political matters anyway, and also whether they are willing to whistleblow.

I think quite a few of the big, well-known disability charities have rather bought into the 'work fixes most things' line, which bugs me because whilst work can indeed be desirable for quite a few people, and I do think that it's good that there are organisations out there that help disabled people to fight their corner in the workplace, I feel that that can be separate from the general 'work is good for you' thing in an economy where mental health problems and other health problems are increasing and where this seems to correlate with increases in poor working conditions and poor job security.  In other words, I wouldn't mind charities getting on the 'good work is good for you' bandwagon, but not the 'any work is good for you' one.  But I don't think this particular clause will be what stops them speaking out and standing up for those they're supposedly there to help.

I'd also add that I think the really big gagging legislation was that which was introduced a little while back to restrict lobbying/campaigning in the run up to elections.  Big charities are caught by that in various ways, primarily by the financial limits imposed on how much may be spent on campaigns if they're seen as influencing the election.  (I can't remember the precise wording/legal terminology.) I don't think that that election legislation just has a direct impact, I think it also shifts the general approach.  I have sat on the board of directors of more than one charity, both very small and multimillion, but never a big national.  However, I can say that the paperwork and organisation involved in timing campaigns and complying with all the legislation on a stop-start basis relative to election timings would be a big incentive just to avoid certain types of campaigning altogether.

I don't object to trying to reduce the number and type of gagging clauses, and I think it's a very important issue, I just think that this one isn't of itself the biggie unless taken as such by charity  bureaucrats that misunderstand it.

(Edited to add a bit and to tidy up.)
« Last Edit: 20 Apr 2018 09:50AM by Sunny Clouds »
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JLR2

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #2 on: 20 Apr 2018 02:09PM »
''Part of that clause states that the contractor “shall pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of DWP and ensure it does nothing to bring it “into disrepute, damages the reputation of the Contracting Body or harms the confidence of the public in the Contracting Body”.'' My change of colour.

I guess then when McVile or others within the DWP do something that brings its own or her own (McVile's) reputation into question those charities holding contracts with the DWP will be as free as anyone else to comment.

''And it warns that these promises apply whether or not the damaging actions relate to the Work and Health Programme, and it says they also apply to any of the contractor’s “Affiliates”.'' My colour edit.

I could see McVile applying Affiliates to just about anyone in the Tory Party.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #3 on: 20 Apr 2018 03:15PM »
I would say that the normal, everyday meaning of those words would be that they refer to what the contractors and their affiliates do in the course of carrying out the contracts.  If they were interpreted otherwise by a court, it could set rather an alarming precedent in commercial contract law.

Quote
And it warns that these promises apply whether or not the damaging actions relate to the Work and Health Programme, and it says they also apply to any of the contractor’s “Affiliates”.

There doesn't seem to be any quote of the specific wording, rather than an interpretation of it, and whilst it may well be that some charities would interpret the clause concerned in this way, it is clear that others haven't.

I don't say that the clause is acceptable, merely that I struggle to accept that in reality it would be interpreted by any court of law as acting to prevent the affiliates from doing things outside of that specific contractual relationship.

That doesn't mean that I would disagree, for example, with the idea that the government is trying to gag charities and other organisations that can act as a voice for disabled and disadvantaged people.  I'm quite sure that they do everything they can think of to achieve that.
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JLR2

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #4 on: 20 Apr 2018 04:07PM »
''to prevent the affiliates from doing things outside of that specific contractual relationship.''

Were it not so, Sunny, there would have been no reason to include the statement in the terms of contract.

If I've read things correctly these terms of contract were in place before McVile was given the job she has at the DWP and would have been applied to those whom held the position before her. It is perhaps because McVile is so toxic that these clauses in the terms of contract have been looked at more seriously.

This story reminds me of the report about one of Donald Trump's meetings at the Whitehouse where it was suggested he more or less refused to start the meeting until those at the table all uttered their 2 minutes of praise for him. Maybe McVile will be looking to see the same worshiping from any charity or company which looks to gain work from the DWP. I could just imagine the doorman at the HQ of the DWP being sacked because he failed to say, ''Good morning'' with a smile big enough to meet the required level as McVile enters the building. Gawld help the poor sod whom forgets McVile's birthday.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #5 on: 20 Apr 2018 04:21PM »
Quote
Were it not so, Sunny, there would have been no reason to include the statement in the terms of contract.

It seems to me to be a pretty bog-standard clause actually designed just to stop people who get government contracts from whingeing about the schemes they get the contracts for.  I don't say that's right - far from it - I'm just disagreeing with the proposition that it extends as far as the article you cite would suggest.

I see it as the sort of clause that's inserted in the hopes that it will deter, not least because a charity might be concerned with the cost of getting legal advice, or not want to lose their sub-contract etc.

I'm not disagreeing with you as to the potential effect and I wouldn't disagree, for example, as to the effect that the drafter may have hoped that the clause would have, I just say I don't think it would from a contractual perspective hold water in the way the article you link to implies.

But where I think we would particularly agree is that this government is doing its best to deter well-known organisations who may speak up for us from doing so, and a clause here and a clause there, added together to worry a charity, especially since key charities can vary  massively in size and resources to get advice, can make an enormous difference.

Personally, I think the government propaganda probably does a lot more harm than clauses like this.  I think you share my loathing of the whole concept promoted that lots of us are skivers and those that aren't would soon recover if only we got a job.  (I'm not sure how jobs fix stuff like Parkinsons or help people to re-grow legs or whatever, but never mind, if you think of any example, from the government's perspective, it's always an exceptional case.)
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JLR2

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #6 on: 20 Apr 2018 04:52PM »
''...this government is doing its best to deter well-known organisations who may speak up for us from doing so, and a clause here and a clause there, added together to worry a charity...''

Sort of minds me of the way many benefit claimants are encouraged to drop any ideas about appealing a benefit decision where they may have been awarded, say WRAG, but feel they should have been seen as qualifying for ESA Support, claimants are warned fairly strongly that should they appeal a decision they stand a good chance of losing the benefit level they have been given. Yes charities which depend on the sitting government for a large part of the income that allows them to do the work they do will be concerned not to put such access to funding in doubt.

One thing that tends to bug me to some extent is from what I thought a charity was is, it would appear, different to how governments look on them, I'm meaning nowadays it would seem governments are looking on or treating charities as just another department of the government.

lankou

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #7 on: 20 Apr 2018 05:53PM »
I'm meaning nowadays it would seem governments are looking on or treating charities as just another department of the government.

Over the last few year, based on experience, disability charities that are supposed to be a help are a waste of time, they expect me to complain directly because they seem too scared to do it themselves.
it would appear my thread starter explains why.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #8 on: 20 Apr 2018 06:59PM »
May I be crude about charities as an arm of government?  That's what they were originally meant to be.

Ok there follows my bog-standard spiel on the history of the welfare state and where charities fit in.  The history basically revolves around money and tax. Scroll on by if it's too long or you've read it before. 

It's snapshots of 5 periods of history, and interwoven strands of tax and welfare.  By welfare I mean, very generally things like relief of poverty, health/nursing care, education etc. 

Medieval times.  The welfare state was essentially provided by the church, including the monasteries.  If you'd got any money to spare you gave it to the church to help others.  When a man died, he couldn't leave anything to his wife because women couldn't inherit, but he could give money to the church when alive so they'd look after his wife and kids.  Lawyers came up with an inheritance dodge whereby a man could give money to a male friend when alive, for the 'use' of his wife and kids.

Henry VIII.  Henry was greedy.  He wanted his brother's wife and it was a perfect excuse to sever links with Rome, and for what's usually called the dissolution of the monasteries but which was basically the seizure of the monasteries.  However, in the process, he effectively destroyed the welfare state.  Meanwhile, he really wasn't happy with the death tax dodge called the use, so he legislated it away.  Lawyers got clever so wealthy men gave money to a friend to the use of a friend to the use of the family.  The first use dropped out, and the second worked, as it were.   Henry's lawyers had another go at abolishing uses so the lawyers got to work and came up with a death tax dodge called the 'trust' which meant that the male friend would look after the money for the family and spend it on them.  Henry died before his lawyers could draft more laws to stop that dodge.

Elizabeth.  She wasn't about to re-establish all the monasteries, but her lasting legacy is what's known as the Statute of Elizabeth, which created what we know as charities, which are a form of trust for specific purposes like care of the sick, education, relief of poverty etc.  Like the trusts invented in Henry's day, they bypassed the biggest taxes, i.e. death taxes.   I.e. she forfeited some of her death tax income to re-create a rather patchy welfare state.

Victorian times.  It became quite trendy for very rich people to engage in very visible philanthropy, especially buildings.  They used these nice charitable trusts to set up libraries and hospitals and schools etc. or to donate to them.  Some rich men left their huge family homes and land for public use.  This continued into the 20th century.  Charities were often used for quite small things and to this day the majority of charities aren't big, well-known bodies, and if you try to get a charitable grant somewhere, you can find something like Wossisname Trust named after Sir Thingummy Wossisname.   However, the big thing to note is that trusts, including charitable trusts, whilst effectively acting as a very basic welfare state, were essentially tax dodges.  In terms of welfare state, they were also supplemented by entities like mutuals, some of which were later transformed into insurance companies.

Now.  We've got a public 'welfare state'.  Well, we've still got part of it.  But it seized lots of those charitable buildings and facilities and clinics, so once it's all privatised, we won't be back to the day before the creation of the modern welfare state, we'll be back to the dissolution of the monasteries.  Meanwhile, charities have become not just vehicles for transferring monies in a tax-efficient way to provide certain specific types of service, they've become, in some cases, campaigning and representative bodies.  But don't let's kid ourselves.  They weren't set up for that.  There is no legal requirement for a charity to be 'nice' or 'kind'.


In short, charities were set up as a form of welfare state, funded by Elizabeth I in the form of her forgoing death taxes on them.  In the centuries that followed, the people most likely to set them up were rich and influential people with connections.  Charities as not part of the welfare state are a modern concept and not of the essence of them.  We rely on them to stand up for us but that's a modern twist.

Here endeth the boring historical treatise.
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JLR2

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #9 on: 21 Apr 2018 06:04AM »
Not at all boring Sunny, that's the first time I've read anything like what you have posted there. When you mentioned, ''we'll be back to the dissolution of the monasteries''  I have the feeling you're not far off the truth of things.

I did learn, only recently, that a moan of mine re the government's determination that we are all living longer and should therefore work longer before reaching state pension entitlement.

My moan concerned the fact that my mother having only reached 60 years old and qualified for her pension before dying as a result of cancer, I was asking what happens to the pension my mum should have been able to claim for at least 10 years if the government are sure to the point of changing pension entitlements that everyone is living 10 years longer. Well it seems there is in the pension system a provision for this to be paid. In the system it is known as 'Widows pension credit'  and due to there being a change in the system made recently where the period of payment has been cut from indefinite to, I think, 6 months. So as far as I know my Dad will be getting this benefit paid as part of his pension.

Yup, ah don't know it all but then you awe knew that didn't you?  >biggrin<

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #10 on: 21 Apr 2018 10:21AM »
The positive thing for us is that with the internet, we can find out lots of information and be in with a better chance of applying for or maybe getting help, whether it's what we're entitled to or what people might give us kindly.

The sad thing is that help for people that can't dig out the information is harder to get.  It can also be hard for some people to ask for it. It's particularly problematic if you either can't use a computer or don't have access to one.  Cuts to libraries, advice services, social worker numbers, legal aid etc. all leave lots of people not getting what they should.
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Dark_Divinity

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #11 on: 21 Apr 2018 05:18PM »
Learning about History is never boring, especially if it gives the "little people" some power, understanding and a reason to band together against those who have more power and resources who wish to strip people of everything that they have in this world in order to evict them from this earthly plane of existence.
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On the edge

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #12 on: 08 Aug 2018 09:40AM »
Edit to add warning triangle - Sunshine


Its far from clear disabled, or deaf people for that matter, (They don't know what they are at present, deaf for cultural reasons, or disabled for welfare benefit entitlement), are willing to criticise charity, which are a blight on disabled lives, and perpetuate dependence/reliance and patronisation of disabled and vulnerable.  Asking the charity commission for a breakdown of the charities betraying us all, was refused on the grounds charity has the right of NO reply.  It is alleged many deaf charities agreed not to raise an issue with McVey or the DWP, to alleviate our wrath and anger so doing, and they posted the Charity Commision 'forbids' them to engage in political issues, which means basically none are technically allowed to support our rights aim as that is political.  Some have but used the 'support' angle to cover itself.  I can only assume any charity that is unwilling to take on the DWP and Co is doing so to protect the funding that maintains their hold over those relying on their help when these people are fully entitled it anyway by Human Rights law.  That law says WE determine the support direction and where it is applied, NOT them.  This woman is determined to kill disabled people by neglect, her dept found guilty by the courts of 1,000s of deaths and struts about demanding charity silence.  The Government placates the world by screwing us and sending £14B abroad to 'worse off' in other countries, to look good, its hypocrisy on a horrific scale, and nothing less than genocide in action..
« Last Edit: 02 Sep 2018 10:05AM by Sunshine Meadows »

ATurtle

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #13 on: 14 Aug 2018 01:12PM »
This woman is, allegedly determined to kill disabled people by neglect, her dept found guilty by the courts of 1,000s of deaths and struts about demanding charity silence.
  Red added by me to protect On the Edge.

The problem comes when you realise that we all, as individuals or as a group (including charities), have a right to a freedom of speech, as laid out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1949.  As signatories and founder members of the UN, this is, and must remain as part of UK law.

This, therefore, means that if the DWP (Insert rude versions of these initials mentally) cannot mute the organisations that we need to stand up for those of us who cannot stand up for ourselves.  I would love to see the DWP say that Cerebral Palsy does not exist and all people with CP would be losing their benefits, count the milliseconds before SCOPE start complaining.
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Sunshine Meadows

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Re: Charities gagged from criticising Esther McVey
« Reply #14 on: 02 Sep 2018 10:29AM »
Quote
In other words, I wouldn't mind charities getting on the 'good work is good for you' bandwagon, but not the 'any work is good for you' one.

Well said  >thumbsup<

On the edge,

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/663399/improving-lives-the-future-of-work-health-and-disability.PDF

There is a lot of information in this PDF probably more than most of us can sit, read and take in, but I have browsed and found this-

Page 46

Quote
. Access to Work Significant enhancements will be made to Access to Work over the next few months

Quote
For those with the highest needs, such as some British Sign Language (BSL)
users, we will offer a personalised service. They will be able to access support of
up £43,100 per year, from April 2018, and will be offered new managed personal
budgets as well as workplace assessments involving their employers, to help
them meet their needs within their award levels. Deaf customers will be
supported by a dedicated team of specialist advisers

This did make me realise that even if the government does limit what the charities involved can say in public it wont be able to stop them talking about what the governments stated position is and what this means. For example if someone who is deaf meets the correct criteria to get the help mentioned above and is not getting the help the charity should be able to publically ask why not.