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The boss of a homeless charity in Torbay has allegedly been ordered to stop criticising the Government’s flagship Universal Credit reform or risk losing out on thousands of pounds of vital lottery funding, it has been reported.

Ellie Waugh, CEO of Humanity Torbay, situated in Devon, says the homeless charity she leads has been threatened with a loss of funding unless she stays silent on highlighting the impact of the Government’s welfare changes on some of the most vulnerable people in UK society.

The Big Lottery Fund, a supposedly independent public body, has denied the allegations but Ellie Waugh says she shared a video online “out of sheer frustration” after she applied for £130,000 of funding for the local charity.

Waugh, 53, claims she was visited by an official from the The Big Lottery Fund who instructed her to stop speaking out against Universal Credit and its devastating impact on low-income households – a claim that has been denied by The Big Lottery Fund.

“I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut about universal credit. I’ve been told we won’t get any grants if we say anything”, she told inews.

She added: “As the CEO of [Torbay] Humanity I have made the decision to speak out and say this is not right. At the end of the day people should know what’s going on.

“I don’t think people realise just how bad it is at the moment. More people are finding themselves homeless and on the street due to Universal Credit.”

Waugh claims she was told that if the charity wants any further funding “we had to stop making videos and we had to stop speaking out”.

“She said ‘you’ve got to play the game’.”

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The accusation has been backed up by Trustee Shirley Holbrook, who says she was in the room when the threat was made.

“She said categorically if we were to receive a big lottery grant we would be unable to speak out against Universal Credit or any other government measure that affected our clients adversely.

“We are not a political organisation. We speak out about homelessness because we deal with the results of it every day.”

A spokesperson for The Big Lottery Fund told inews that it had provided Humanity Torbay with £10,000 of funding in 2017 and are working with the charity on its application for a further £130,000.

They added: “It is incorrect to suggest we would 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 that, in the course of their other activities, may also campaign on a range of topics or issues.

“While we are clear – and it’s our stated policy – that our funding cannot be directly used for such activity, we do not prevent any grant holder from voicing their views on an issue that is important to them, their organisation or community.”