UK Aid Projects Have Been ‘Scaled Back’ Since The Brexit Referendum

International development programmes promoting water security and helping refugees in Uganda have been hit by the fall in the value of the pound

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has called for more private sector involvement in UK aid. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Joe Sandler Clarke, @JSandlerClarke!|AIWA! NO!|Aid projects designed to help some of the poorest people in the world and mitigate climate change have been harmed by the dramatic fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit referendum.

Programmes aimed at alleviating poverty in the Congo Basin region and supporting refugees in Uganda have both had to be scaled back, according to UK government documents.

UK support for programmes mitigating climate change have also been hit. The World Bank’s Forest Investment Program, a fund to encourage reforestation, faced an “unrealised currency loss of $37.26million” last year due to the fluctuation of the pound.

NGOs say they have had to balance their currency losses with income from other sources.

Claire Godfrey from Bond, the network that represents UK international development NGOs, told Unearthed that the current uncertainty “hits the most vulnerable and poorest people the hardest”.

She said: “Delivering aid and development programmes needs a level of predictability and currency volatility affects predictability, long-term planning and therefore sustainability… donors and NGOs are going to have to do some contingency planning to ensure that the currency fluctuations we are seeing post-Brexit do not have such a harmful impact on programming.”

Pete Clutton-Brock, policy advisor with the environmental organisation E3G, said the uncertainty around Brexit posed a risk for UK development funding and climate finance. He urged the Department for International Development (Dfid) to “consider options for hedging against such volatility as a matter of urgency.”

The news comes as MPs on the International Development Committee today heard evidence from policy institutes, including E3G, on ways UK aid money can be used to mitigate climate change.

Dramatic fall

For years, the relative strength of the pound meant organisations working with the Department for International Development budgeted in sterling. But fears about the impact of Brexit on the British economy have seen the value of the pound fall dramatically since the June 2016 referendum, leaving some aid projects under-funded.

Annual reviews of aid projects published by Dfid show that several programmes have been affected by the fluctuation of the pound since the referendum.

I fear Dfid will lose the ability to leverage the most out of the aid budget and contribute to UK soft power

project aimed at reducing deforestation and “improving the livelihoods of forest dependent communities” in the Congo Basin region has had to “scale back on activities to align with the new value of sterling”.

The latest review of a £45m programme providing “emergency life-saving assistance to the large influxes of refugees arriving in Uganda” warned that a “weaker pound would mean fewer beneficiaries will be reached and therefore less impact”.

An effort to “improve water security and climate resilience for poor people” around the world has also been caught out by the fall in the value of sterling, with the project’s annual review stating that partners on the programme may have to “reduce operational budgets” due to currency uncertainty.

Unearthed approached several major aid organisations receiving Dfid funding to ask if their projects had been affected by the fluctuation of the pound. These included the German organisation GIZ, which works on the Water Security Programme, and Rainforest Foundation UK, which works on the Congo Basin project.

All said they had found ways of insulating themselves from such uncertainty, by diversifying their donors and getting funding in a mix of currencies. But such options aren’t open to smaller NGOs, which carry out work on the ground.

Joseph English, a communications officer with Unicef, which receives Dfid funding, told Unearthed: “Any fluctuation in currency markets can cause revaluations of funds held by Unicef country offices or funds in support of Unicef programmes, and can lead to resource shortfalls or surplus.

“Unicef works to monitor currency fluctuations and assess their possible impact on local programme costs, and broaden funding pools and consider changes to programmes to mitigate any possible disruption due to revaluations and fluctuations.”

0.7% commitment

David Hulme, executive director of the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, told Unearthed he feared Brexit could reduce the ‘soft power’ derived from the UK’s aid programme.

“In the short term, any fall in the value of the pound will affect many aid programmes, but the longer term consequences of our declining global influence could be even more profound.

“With Brexit likely to further erode both the value of the pound and reduce the UK’s credentials for international cooperation, I fear that Dfid will lose the ability to leverage the most out of the aid budget and to contribute to UK soft power.  This could have very real consequences for millions of people still living in poverty.”

In March 2015, David Cameron’s government passed a bill to enshrine in law the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid.

At the time of publication, Dfid were yet to provide a comment.

The World Bank did not respond to a request for comment.

Theresa May tells angry Tory MPs: “I will not trap UK in permanent customs union with EU after Brexit”

Theresa May has sought to reassure worried Tory MPs by insisting that the UK will not be permanently “trapped” in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

EU and UK flags
Theresa May is fighting a major rebellion in the Tory ranks over Brexit.Credit: 
PA Image
|Kevin Schofield,PoiliticsHome|AIWA! NO!|The Prime Minister is facing the threat of Cabinet resignations over fears that a “backstop” arrangement aimed at avoiding a hard Irish border will effectively keep the UK locked into the bloc’s trading regime forever.

Senior ministers, including Dominic Raab and Michael Gove, expressed their concerns directly to Mrs May at a mini-Cabinet meeting on Thursday evening.

Tory minister warns on Brexit customs backstop end date

Theresa May: My backstop Brexit proposal is ‘unpalatable’

Theresa May facing threat of Cabinet resignations over Brexit customs plan

It is also understood that Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and Esther McVey are considering their positions on the frontbench over the row.

In an attempt to calm tensions in the Conservative ranks, a Downing Street spokeswoman insisted any backstop deal would be “temporary”.

However, she stopped short of saying that any agreement will continue a specific date for when it will come to an end.

She said: “When we published our plans in June for a UK-wide customs backstop, we were absolutely clear that the arrangement would be temporary and only in place until our future economic relationship was ready. Our position is that this future economic relationship needs to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest.

“The Prime Minister would never agree to a deal that would trap the UK in a backstop permanently.”

HAMMOND

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has risked a fresh Cabinet row by suggestion that a backstop arrangement is inevitable, despite Downing Street insisting it remains unlikely.

Speaking to Bloomberg, he said: “We are not going to remain in anything indefinitely, we are very clear this has to be a temporary period. But it is true that there needs to be a period probably following the transition period that we’ve negotiated before we enter into our long-term partnership, just because of the time it will take to implement the systems required.

“It is very important to us that business doesn’t have to make two sets of changes. That there will effectively be continuity from the current set up through the transition period into any temporary period and then a single set of changes when we move into our long-term new economic partnership with the European Union.”

Theresa May has sought to reassure worried Tory MPs by insisting that the UK will not be permanently “trapped” in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

UNITED KINGDOM Increases Immigration Health Surcharge; Generates ‘Extra Cash For The NHS’

‘Since the surcharge was introduced in 2015 it has raised over £600m which the Department of Health and Social Care and the health ministries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have invested back into their health budgets…’

Increase to Immigration Health Surcharge  is intended to ‘streamline and improve the cash – flow into the NHS from various sections of the immigrant population in the United Kingdom.

The IHS allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access NHS services in the same way as UK citizens.

The proposals would see the surcharge increase from £200 to £400 per year for non-EU nationals, with students and those on the Youth Mobility Schemeon the discounted rate of £300 per year.

Since the surcharge was introduced in 2015 it has raised over £600m which the Department of Health and Social Care and the health ministries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have invested back into their health budgets.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:

Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.

I am pleased that we are a step closer to implementing the changes to the health surcharge, and the extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class healthcare system.

It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily.

The changes better reflect the cost to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge, as the DHSC estimates that the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating those required to pay the surcharge.

These changes do not affect permanent residents, who are not required to pay the surcharge. Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are also exempt.

Short-term migrants, including those on visitor visas, are generally charged for secondary care treatment by the NHS at the point of access.

The increase is set to come into effect in December 2018 subject to Parliamentary approval.

Leave.EU @LeaveEUOfficial: “[PRIME MINISTER]May told us that we’d be leaving the Customs Union…”

 “May told us that we’d be leaving the Customs Union. Staying in “would betray the vote of the British people” & “make a mockery of the referendum”. Now she’s plotting a Customs U-turn… You know when she’s lying because her lips are moving! .

labor skill

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA|AIWA! NO!|Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit “war Cabinet” to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

British and EU negotiators are understood to have agreed in principle to an all-UK backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland that would remove the final major obstacle blocking a withdrawal agreement.

Boris Johnson said the deal would turn the UK into a “permanent EU colony” and the DUP angrily threatened to break its confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives and potentially bring down the Government if the Prime Minister goes through with the plan, which it described as a “sell out”.

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