Many of you will have seen the recent cuts announced to recipients of UK Aid. The cuts have been widespread and devastating for many organisations. We are relieved to share that we have not been directly affected by the cuts and our grant for our Pregnant Women’s Groups project in Meru County, Kenya, will remain unchanged.
Whilst we are incredibly grateful and relieved that our funding is unaffected, we are deeply concerned about the overall impact on the world’s most vulnerable people, particularly the children and women who are already at increased risk of the indirect effects of the pandemic. We’re also concerned for the longer term impact on the sector and we will be affected hugely by the reduction in funding, as will our participants in Kenya, for years and most likely decades to come.
What’s happening with the FCDO?
Last year the UK government announced that the Department for International Development (DfID) would be merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to create one new entity; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. It was also announced that the legislated promise to spend an agreed proportion of the UK’s GNI on development projects abroad (with a purpose of eradicating poverty around the world) would be reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% as part of the COVID recovery plan.
That is a £4.5bn reduction per year in funding to vital projects around the world. There is significant concern that this change will be made permanent. The announcements from FCDO have lacked transparency or clarity in their processes of determining where the cuts would be made.
The FCDO maintains that there are priority areas for their support, including projects working in girl’s education and climate change. Girl’s education was highlighted as a priority area in the Queen’s speech this week, yet the support allocated to this priority area has still been reduced by 25%. We also understand that impact hasn’t been a determining factor as many successful projects with demonstrable high impact have been terminated.
What does this mean?
Funding from FCDO was already very challenging (and costly) to win; now it’s seeming more and more like a closed avenue. Many small charities like us have had hard-won grants completely cancelled without compensation for the costs associated with applying. For perspective, the Small Charities Challenge Fund has been completely scrapped, meaning thousands of vulnerable people and communities are not receiving the support they need and that they were promised. The total cost of this fund would cost less than the new Downing Street Press Room.
Cancelling projects like this is hugely detrimental to small charities, who will lose trust from the communities they work in, and who are unlikely to have large reserves to help them to continue with the work they’ve agreed to with their participants.
The government is making strategic decisions around their international aid spending. UK Aid has long been a beacon of hope in the global fight against poverty. The former DfID was a global leader in the development and humanitarian sectors. The destruction of this agency is a huge loss for vulnerable people, institutional knowledge and expertise in the UK and for the UK’s reputation on the global stage.
What Child.org are doing
Whilst we are not directly experiencing these cuts at the moment, we stand in solidarity with the organisations across the UK that are all working towards similar goals. We are a member of Bond, the UK’s International Development network and I have signed this statement expressing concerns at the decisions to cut aid spending, and appeal for these cuts to be a temporary change to UK Aid.
What you can do
Right now, there aren’t many clear avenues to follow for appealing against these funds; charities and bodies like Bond have been too focused on trying to understand the extent of the damage. But they will emerge soon and we’ll share them with you, our wonderful supporters.
In the meantime, you can help Child.org strengthen our resilience and to continue our impactful work by helping us build our unrestricted funding. Three great (and fun) ways you can help are to:
As ever, thank you for your support of our work. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch directly with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.