22 June 2020

Nearly 200 UK aid and development leaders have called on the government to reverse its decision to scrap DFID, stating that the move risks jeopardising the UK’s global Covid-19 response and the UK turning its back on the world's poorest people. 

Stephanie Draper, Bond CEO said, 

“This week's news marks the beginning of the UK turning its back on the world's poorest people. Humanitarian and development professionals now fear UK aid will increasingly be diverted away from helping people, and instead used for trade deals or our political agenda. This would be a disaster for the UK’s credibility as a world leader in development and aid, especially at a time when Covid-19 requires a global response, without which it remains a threat to us all.  

Many of the NGOs who have signed this letter do not receive a single penny of government funding – yet anyone working to tackle diseases, or get girls into education, or provide water and sanitation to people living in conflict understands that having a government department with the expertise to help build a healthier, safer and more sustainable world is of critical importance to us all. The government must immediately reverse this decision.” 

The charities, aid agencies and thinks tanks specialising in humanitarian relief, girl's education, global health, clean water and sanitation said: 

“Abolishing one of the world’s most effective and respected government departments at a time when the world is in need of global leadership, undermines our response to Covid-19 and suggests the UK is turning its back on the world’s poorest people.  It also risks us being less able to respond to the great challenges of our time, such as global health security and climate change...  

...This decision, taken during a global pandemic with no consultation, ahead of the review of development, diplomacy and defence and against the recent advice of the cross-party International Development Select Committee, does not enhance our reputation in the world but diminishes it.  

We urge you to reconsider this merger.” 

Despite government claims, the UK humanitarian and development sector was not consulted about the plans to merge the Department for International Development and the Foreign Commonwealth Office.  

Last week, the International Development Select Committee report for its inquiry, Effectiveness of UK Aid stated, “Our evidence is clear that UK aid has made major contributions to global development goals. DFID has a high international standing, built up over many years, for its excellence in managing and delivering development assistance, and its transparency and effectiveness. Any reforms to current government systems and structures would potentially impact the fundamentals of what UK aid is spent on, who spends it most effectively, and ultimately undermine our reputation and influence overseas as a ‘development superpower’”. 

Organisations signing on to the statement include; Save the Children, World Vision UK, ActionAid UK,  War Child, HelpAge International, STOPAIDS, WWF, Publish What You Fund – the Global Campaign for Aid Transparency,  Amref Health Africa UK, World Jewish Relief, Islamic Relief UK, Tearfund, VSO, TackleAfrica and Mothers Union. 

ENDS 

Notes to editor 

  • 188 UK humanitarian and development charities and organisations have written to the Prime Minister calling for him to reverse the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign Commonwealth Office.
  • On the 16th December 2019, over 100 CEOs from charities of all sizes from across the UK urged the UK government not to turn its back on the world’s poorest people and called on the incoming government to retain DFID as a separate Whitehall department and keep the department’s Secretary of State. 
  • The Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which scrutinises UK aid spending independently of government and reports to Parliament through the House of Commons International Development Select Committee or their ICAI Sub-Committee, has warned that “the redistribution of the aid budget between departments has led to a growing focus on large middle-income countries, driven by security, climate change or economic goals, which risks a reduced focus on poverty and ‘leaving no one behind’”. 
  • The National Audit Office (NAO) which helps Parliament hold the government to account for the way it spends public money has warned that “widening ODA expenditure to other departments has increased risks to effectiveness” and “very few departments [except DFID] make public information about their ODA expenditure, such as the amounts for which they are responsible, the programmes this budget funds, or the impacts secured for this spending.” 
  • For further information or interviews please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]