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Tue, 7 July 2020

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By Sarah Champion MP and Pauline Latham MP
Coronavirus
Defence
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Save the Children response to announcement of merger of Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive | Save the Children

2 min read

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.

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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