Trussell Trust told ‘the government might try to shut you down’

Trussell Trust told ‘the government might try to shut you down’

Trussell Trust told ‘the government might try to shut you down’9

Governance | Alice Sharman | 11 Jun 2014

The chair of the Trussell Trust has said that the charity made a decision to tone down its criticisms of the benefit system after someone in power warned them that they could get shut down.

Chris Mould, chair of the Trussell Trust, was giving evidence to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector yesterday when he said that the charity, which aims to tackle poverty, had been criticised by the government for raising awareness of the need for foodbanks.

He said that he had seen several examples of how “people in power do pretty inappropriate things at times to try and curb and curtail independence of a voluntary organisation when it proves to be inconvenient to them”.

Mould, who made it clear that the charity was not a campaigning organisation, told the panel that most of these examples had arisen in private conversations with those in power.

'Government might try to shut you down'

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”.

Mould said: “This was spoken in anger, but is the kind of dialogue that can occur. It exposes the way people think in the political world about their relationship with the voluntary sector when things are getting difficult. What can we do?”

The charity then took the decision to tone down its criticisms so that the government would maintain its contact. Mould said that this decision was a response of a “positive nature”.

He also spoke of another example of when the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions' office contacted him in 2011 in response to publication of the Trussell Trust’s concerns about the benefits system.

Mould said 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 the benefits system”.

However Mould, who spoke of “ongoing efforts to belittle the organisation” by the government, said that a decision made by the charity’s trustees in 2005 that they would avoid seeking government funding meant that they were in a better position to resist government pressure.

Mould also spoke of how the charity's commitment to professionalism, including its expanding trustee board which attempts to cover all areas of expertise, and the quality of the statistics it produces, gave the charity more capacity to resist pressure.

Earlier this year, a criticial article by the Daily Mail about the Trussell Trust led to the charity's appeal raising more than £50,000 in two days.

Blanche Jones, campaigns director at 38 degrees, also spoke to the panel yesterday about the reception the organisation receives from politicians.

The campaigning organisation received criticism last year from Conservative MP Peter Bottomley who said that 38 Degrees was one of several organisations whose members were spamming the inboxes of MPs causing them “chaos”.

Jones said that she wished government would see this engagement as a more positive thing, as such comments from MPs contribute to a “growing feeling of disengagement and disempowerment”.

Oxfam reported to Charity Commission

A new political attack on charities was seen yesterday when a Tory MP revealed that he is reporting Oxfam to the Charity Commission for its “perfect storm” promotional campaign on austerity. Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, said the campaign was "overtly political and aimed at the policies of the current government".

Isobel Ford
23 Jun 2014

A quote from Brazil:
"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."
Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara ;

Jonny Wineberg
Community Futures Trust CIC
15 Jun 2014

I now work with several foodbanks, which the Trussell Trust has supported. They are some of the best examples of local voluntary action one could ever hope to see.

I have no doubt that this is what those is government would say. They need to be more circumspect as well as more respectful of the efforts of those supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

Chris Mould should also be prepared to 'name and shame'. Such government comments should never be viewed as private.

Andrew Johnston
14 Jun 2014

George Orwell was only 30 years out. Shows how paranoid this awful government is about being criticised...

James Renton
13 Jun 2014

Another issue here is that while it all well and good to come out later and say you had been threatened - but it would have been far more effective to have done so at the time of the threat! In effect the threat worked and the person involved has not been named. The Daily Mail are always going to go for them anyway - so attack has to be the best form of of defence?

Roy Bennett
13 Jun 2014

Jim:- absolutely spot on, Andy, no chance, where is Spitting image now we need them so badly, its uncanny remembering them and the miners, steelworkers, dockers and other union leaders 30 years ago, who so eloquently forecast what we are now witnessing, zero hour contracts, cowed voices of dissent, the increasing divide between the haves and have nots, welcome to free market Britain where "we are all in it together".

Andy Gregg
Race on the Agenda
12 Jun 2014

Creeping authoritarianism - a really serious danger to the independence of the sector and to the role of civil society itself. What chance that voluntary sector leaders will raise this as loudly as they should?

Carl Allen
11 Jun 2014

Bit strange strategy, but martyrdom is martyrdom.

Carl Allen
11 Jun 2014

" The chair of the Trussell Trust has said that the charity made a decision to tone down its criticisms of the benefit system after someone in power warned them that they could get shut down ".

Yet the decision means the very issue the Trusts seeks to remedy
will continue and likely grow.

And so through no fault of it's own the Trust must continue to grow to meet need. This particular organisational growth is irreconcilable in principle.

Is this good governance?

11 Jun 2014

Unbelievable you should increase the volume of your concerns having published the implied threats made - Absolutely disgusting and typical of the way this goverment is operating


[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear


  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.


Sector independence 'undervalued and under threat' says Independence Panel

Trussell Trust scoops top award at the Charity Awards 2016

Government has threatened independence of charities, says Independence Panel

Trussell Trust sees use of its foodbanks 'almost triple' in a year

Report: UK banks are lending £3bn to social organisations

22 Jul 2016

A report commissioned by RBS has estimated that banks in the UK have over £3bn invested in outstanding...

Access Foundation makes first investment and calls for more proposals

21 Jul 2016

Access – the Foundation for Social Investment has made its first investment, into a fund providing loans...

Libor funds will go to charity supported by Jo Cox

14 Jul 2016

A charity supported by the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, has been awarded £375,000 of money raised through...

Cancer Research UK's Race for Life tops list of mass particpation fundraising events

22 Jul 2016

Cancer Research’s Race for Life raised £52.8m last year making it the highest-earning mass participation...

Fundraising Regulator levy proposals ‘unfair’ on smaller organisations, say stakeholders

22 Jul 2016

Representatives of small and medium charities have said that the proposed levy disproportionately affects...

Big Lottery spending down more than £300m after large project delayed

20 Jul 2016

Big Lottery Fund grant-giving fell from over £900m to just under £600m in the year to March 2016, after...

Blockchain technology could ‘revolutionise’ charity regulation, says report

21 Jul 2016

Blockchain technology could eventually be used to carry out many of the functions of a traditional regulator,...

Macmillan, Cancer Research UK and Brooke use Pokemon Go to encourage fundraising

14 Jul 2016

Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK and Brooke are among the charities to encourage fundraising...

Stop looking for a 'big bang' moment for digital transformation

4 Jul 2016

Charities should stop looking for a “big bang” moment in digital transformation and instead focus...

Join the discussion


Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<