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'Deeply damaging': Response to DFID/Foreign Office merger

London | 16 June 2020 | Save the Chldren

  • Save the Children has spokespeople available for interview. Please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 0207 012 6841 / (24 hrs) 07831 650409 with any enquiries.

Responding to the Prime Minister's announcement of a merger of the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said:

"DFID has an unrivalled track-record in providing global leadership on development, making a difference for the world’s poorest people, and delivering value-for-money for taxpayers in the UK. Merging the Department into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a flawed decision that flies in the face of commitments made in the government’s manifesto.

"During the biggest humanitarian crisis in a century, when the Covid-19 pandemic is reversing hard won gains in child and maternal health, education, and poverty, this is a baffling and deeply damaging move. It will weaken the UK’s ability to provide for the world’s poorest children at a time when they need the UK’s support and solidarity.

"DFID's independence has ensured that its aid spending is focussed on fighting poverty and inequality, while aid administered by the Foreign Office has been widely criticised as less effective, less transparent and less value for money. There is now a real danger that narrow views of national self-interest will trump the explicitly humanitarian concerns at the heart of DFID’s remit.

"The Government must move immediately to reduce the damage of this merger by protecting the focus and quality of aid now spent through the Foreign Office. It must adhere to the internationally agreed standards for aid spending and retain the legal safeguards and scrutiny mechanisms provided by the International Development Committee, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact and the International Development Acts. To ensure that humanitarian considerations are heard at the highest level of Government, a Cabinet Minister for International Development must be retained.

"The Prime Minister's announcement diminishes the UK's global role, and will reduce the impact of its aid. We can only lessen the damage of this move if we hold on to the high standards that DFID set."

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