Big Lottery Fund ‘looking into’ allegation it ‘gagged’ a charity

29 Oct 2018 News

The chief executive of a homelessness charity has accused the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) of telling her she could not campaign against Universal Credit, if given a grant from the funder. 

BLF has said that it is looking into the situation and clarified that it does not tell charities that they cannot campaign, although lottery funding is restricted to project work.

Ellie Waugh, chief executive of Humanity Torbay, posted a video on YouTube last week saying that she had been told she could not get funding from the Big Lottery Fund, if she continued to criticise Universal Credit. 

The video has been viewed over 6,000 times and has been picked up by BBC News, the Sun and inews. 

Speaking to Civil Society News, Waugh said during the meeting with a BLF representative she “spent three hours being battered”; that “she didn’t want to see our business plan” and claimed she was told “I was too blond and too fluffy”. 

She said she was “horrified” by the treatment and said this is not the first time people have told her to keep quiet about Universal Credit. 

Waugh said however it was her duty to speak up because “Universal Credit is ruining things for so many people”. 

Humanity Torbay was registered as a charitable incorporated organisation in last October. Waugh said it is struggling for funds. 

It has set up a crowdfunding page aiming to raise £15,000 to cover its costs. It has so far raised £500. 

BLF looking into what happened 

The BLF initially issued a statement saying that it is “incorrect to suggest we would withhold funding from any organisation on the basis of what they say publicly on social issues”. 

Yesterday it updated its position to say it was “concerned” by media reports and that it would investigate how the confusion happened. 

It said: “We are concerned to hear about recent events relating to an organisation we have previously funded - Humanity Torbay.

“The Big Lottery Fund does not withhold funding from any organisation on the basis of what they say publicly on social issues. We fund thousands of projects that are run by organisations who campaign on a range of topics or issues. We do not prevent any grant holder from voicing their views on an issue that is important to them, their organisation or community.

“We are looking into how this could have arisen as a matter of urgency.”

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