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.

BRITISH Borders MP Threatens to Quit Over Proposed Brexit Deal Compromises

|Paris Gourtsoyannis, The Southern Reporter|AIWA! NO!|Borders MP David Mundell has threatened to resign over a European Union exit deal set to be signed off by the UK Government as soon as next week. The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson have both issued a threat to quit over compromises to that Brexit deal over the Irish border ibeing proposed in a bid to get it agreed.

Ruth Davidson and David Mundell at last year's Royal Highland Show at Ingliston.
Ruth Davidson and David Mundell at last year’s Royal Highland Show at Ingliston.

UK prime minister Theresa May’s cabinet meets today, October 16, amid widespread disquiet among Conservatives and their allies in the Democratic Unionist Party about plans to keep Britain in the EU customs union and boost regulatory checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea between Britain and Northern Ireland. Downing Street has sought to calm speculation that the compromises will form the basis of a breakthrough on the UK’s Brexit withdrawal aMrs Maythe Prime Minister not to do a “dodgy deal” undermining Northern Ireland’s standing in the union.

A joint letter from Ms Davidson and Scottish Secretary Mr Mundell to Mrs May warns that the issue of special status in the EU single market for Northern Ireland would be a red line for both of them, it has emerged. Under existing treaties including the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland already has separate regulatory regimes shared with the Republic of Ireland over matters including electricity and animal health.

However, the EU says that under a commitment set to agreed by Mrs May to prevent a hard border being created on the island of Ireland, the north would have to effectively remain within the single market. Checks on goods travelling between the north and Britain would need to be enhanced, affecting all livestock and agricultural products, many of which come from Scotland.

“Having fought just four years ago to keep our country together, the integrity of our United Kingdom remains the single most important issue for us in these negotiations,” the letter from Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell states.

“Any deal that delivers a differentiated settlement for Northern Ireland beyond the differences that already exist on an all-Ireland basis – for example, agriculture – or can be brought under the provisions of the Belfast Agreement, would undermine the integrity of our UK internal market and this United Kingdom. “We could not support any deal that creates a border of any kind in the Irish Sea and undermines the union or leads to Northern Ireland having a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK beyond what currently exists.”

As many as eight cabinet ministers are said to be considering their positions over plans to keep the UK in the customs union to ensure goods continue to be traded over the Irish land border whatever the future relationship between London and Brussels without a firm date for when that arrangement would end.

Read more at: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/borders-mp-threatens-to-quit-over-proposed-brexit-deal-compromises-1-4815446

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Theresa May Government Introduces Universal Credit; What Is It ?; … And Is Not …What’s The Problem?

What Universal Credit Is; And Is Not …

woman with pushchair and man walking into a job centre
GETTY IMAGES

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Universal credit has proved controversial almost from the beginning, with reports of IT issues, massive overspends and administrative problems.

It’s being rolled out across the UK. But now concerns are being raised that 3.2 million working families will lose £48 a week – about £2,500 a year- compared with the old system.

The system has been made significantly less generous since it was announced.


What is it?

Universal credit is a benefit for working-age people, replacing six benefits and merging them into one payment:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • housing benefit
  • child tax credit
  • working tax credit

It was designed to make claiming benefits simpler.

A single universal credit payment is paid directly into claimants’ bank accounts to cover the benefits for which they are eligible.

Claimants then have to pay costs such as rent out of their universal credit payment (though there is a provision for people who are in rent arrears or have difficulty managing their money to have their rent paid directly to their landlord)

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly – or twice a month for some people in Scotland.

Whether you can claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your circumstances.

If you live in Northern Ireland, go to Universal Credit in Northern Ireland.

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.

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”.

BRITISH IMMIGRATION Detention Centres; sick, tortured immigrants locked up for months …

Revealed – sick, tortured immigrants locked up for months in Britain – investigation suggests hundreds of vulnerable people are detained indefinitely;  and 

Detainees in an immigration detention centre
The survey found almost half the detainees had not committed a crime but the average detainee had been imprisoned for four months. Photograph: The Guardian

|AIWA! NO!|An unprecedented snapshot of migrants held in British detention centres found more than half of the sample were either suicidal, seriously ill or victims of torture, a Guardian investigation has established.

The survey of almost 200 detainees held in seven deportation centres in England as of 31 August showed almost 56% were defined as an “adult at risk”. Such individuals are only supposed to be detained in extreme cases, suggesting that Home Office guidelines on detention have been breached.

The survey – conducted in association with 11 law firms and charities that work with those facing deportation – also found that a third had dependent children in the UK, and 84% had not been told when they would be deported – implying open-ended incarceration.

Almost half the detainees had not committed a crime, but the average detainee in the sample had been imprisoned for four months. The majority had lived in the UK for five years or more and some had been in the country for more than 20 years.

The sample amounts to 8% of all those held in detention at the time of survey, according to the most recent Home Office figures. A Home Office spokesperson insisted detention was “an important part of the immigration system”, but said that it must be “fair, dignified and protect the most vulnerable”, adding that further improvements could still be made to the system.

While it is not sufficiently scientific to be extrapolated across the entire removal population, the survey suggests many hundreds of extremely vulnerable people are being held indefinitely, in one of the most severe manifestations of the Conservatives’ “hostile environment” policy.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/09/deportation_centres/giv-3902kLLugVLHtE4f/

Roland Adjovi a member of the UN Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s arbitrary detention working group, said that states must ensure that detention ‘is truly a measure of last resort’

“Detention in the context of migration must be a measure of last resort,” he said. “Such detention can never be of unlimited duration and the national legislation must clearly prescribe the maximum permitted duration of detention.”

The former prisons and probation ombudsman Stephen Shaw, who has conducted two comprehensive reviews for the government into immigration detention, added: “Although the overall use of detention has fallen by one third in the last three years, far too many people are still being detained for long periods when there is no realistic prospect of their removal from the UK.”

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: “This snapshot is truly shocking, but not entirely surprising.

“There have been repeated assurances that vulnerable people, victims of trafficking and children would not been detained. But this investigation shows that those assurances are worthless. People are even being detained even though there is no instruction for their removal. This is a scandalously inhumane and unjustifiable system.”

The government detains just over 25,000 people every year pending deportation, at an annual cost of £108m. The practice of indefinite incarceration has been criticised by high court judges, local authorities, parliamentary committees and the UN.

More than half of all detainees are in any case ultimately released back into British society, not deported. Some have taken legal action over their imprisonment. The Home Office’s latest annual report acknowledges that government has paid out £3m to 118 people unlawfully detained in the 2017/18 financial year.

The UK is the only country in Europe to detain people without a time limit. It was Guardian revelations about government’s removal targets which forced Amber Rudd to resign as home secretary in April. Detention centres are instrumental to that policy.

In July, the new home secretary, Sajid Javid, promised to make changes to immigration detention. But the Guardian investigation revealed very little had changed and many vulnerable people were still being detained.

Eleven law firms and charities entered anonymised data on 188 people to build a snapshot of people in deportation centres on 31 August. The data included how long they were held, whether they were considered an adult at risk and whether they had been told when they would be deported.

The survey found:

  • Children were held in adult detention centres, while 30% of detainees had dependent children in the UK.
  • More than half were defined as an adult at risk due to being victims of torture, having suicidal thoughts or being unwell.
  • While the government claims detainees are held briefly before being deported, 84% had not been given removal directions.
  • Detention ranged from under five days to nearly three years, with a median of four months, despite Home Office guidance that it should be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary.
  • Detainees came from 56 countries, most commonly Nigeria and Algeria.

An adult at risk should be given special protection because they are particularly vulnerable. They should not usually be imprisoned, though they can be if the Home Office believes they pose a risk to the public or have a history of non-compliance with immigration law.

Of those represented in the Guardian survey, 27% had been tortured, 24% had serious health conditions and 4% were at risk of suicide.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/oct/2018-10-08T13:48:54/embed.html

The survey found just over half of detainees had served a prison sentence.

Alieu, a refugee from Gambia who was tortured in his home country, says that seven years after being detained in Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, near Heathrow, he is still suffering trauma.

“I kept asking the Home Office: ‘Am I a criminal, am I a prisoner?’ I was locked up in a very small space and was too scared to sleep. I’m still scared of people in uniform. The trauma from being locked up in detention after I’d already experienced torture will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/oct/2018-10-08T13:44:49/embed.html

The investigation also uncovered multiple cases of children being held in the adult estate, despite this being banned in all but exceptional circumstances. Almost a third of adult detainees had dependent children in the UK, prompting concerns their removal would lead to families being separated.

Bail for Immigration Detainees, a charity that assists with detainees’ bail applications, condemned such separations, saying it causes children extreme distress.

“Many of our clients’ children have lost weight, suffered from recurring nightmares and experienced insomnia during their parents’ enforced absence,” said Celia Clarke, director of BID.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, deplored the fact that the vast majority of detainees face open-ended imprisonment, adding: “That lack of an end date is causing serious harm, not only to those detained but also to their loved ones.”

Migration Watch, which monitors migration into the UK and has called for the detention estate to be expanded, said: “If people are here legally and they are being detained that’s a serious flaw in the system. It goes without saying that people who are here legally should not be detained.”

James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance expressed concern about the cost of detention: “Detention should only be used when there is a high chance of returning the individual in a short space of time, because a bureaucratic and lengthy wait is bad for the welfare of those detained, as well as costing taxpayers and meaning less money for essential services.”

The Home Office spokesman said: “We have made significant improvements to our approach in recent years, but it is clear we can go further.

“The home secretary has made clear that he is committed to going further and faster to explore alternatives to detention, increase transparency around immigration detention, further improve the support available for vulnerable detainees and initiate a new drive on detainee dignity.”

The methodology

The Guardian sent a series of questions to 15 organisations who work with detainees – law firms with Home Office contracts to represent detainees and specialist NGOs. We received responses from 11.

Our partner organisations provided anonymised data about a series of key metrics, including age, length of residence and family ties in the UK, length of detention and specific vulnerabilities.

We asked them to enter data about their entire client list on a single day, 31 August, but some did not have the resources to capture every detainee on their books.

After excluding a handful of potential double counts where an NGO and a law firm may have been working with the same detainee, we were left with 188 unique responses.

We then calculated the proportion of the group with certain characteristics, such as suicidal tendencies, dependent children and long-term residency.

The data should be treated as a snapshot and not as a sample representative of the whole population in immigration detention. Many detainees never have contact with any legal representative or NGO, and will not have been captured in our sample.

 In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or emailjo@samaritans.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

©The Guardian

British Prime Minister Theresa May to Discuss New Brexit Compromise to Remain in Customs Union

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May
© REUTERS / Angela Weiss

BREXIT – Theresa May discusses Brexit compromise Tuesday with her Cabinet to remain in Customs Union

Flags are arranged at the EU headquarters as Britain and the EU launch Brexit talks in Brussels, June 19, 2017
© REUTERS / Angela Weiss
|© REUTERS / Angela Weiss|AIWA! NO! |Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May will hold an extended discussion with the Cabinet over further compromise measures regarding Brexit, in order to keep the country in a de-facto customs union with the EU.
A cabinet meeting will be held ahead of May’s trip to Brussels, slated to start on October 17, where she hopes to outline a plan for a compromise deal on the Irish border.

Theresa May will reportedly discuss an obligation to keep the country in an effective customs union with the European Union following Brexit, but having “a clear process” for steps to end it later.

The cabinet meeting will take place on October 16, the Times reported.

“I remain confident we will reach a deal this autumn … [It is] time for the EU to match the pragmatism we have shown,” BREXIT Secretary Dominic Raab said, as quoted by the Sky News broadcaster

A source in the British government has said that ministers feared they could be bounced into accepting several potential changes to the customs arrangement and the areas of EU law that the UK must follow after Brexit. The Times reports that some ministers, including Home Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Brexit Minister Dominic Raab might refuse to accept the proposed changes.

However, later on Tuesday, ITV reported that the PM’s Europe Advisor, Oliver Robbins, managed to achieve substantial progress with EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, which might be an indirect confirmation of The Times report, as since the UK and Northern Ireland would remain within the Customs Union, there would be no obstacles preventing the free movement of goods and labor between the two Irelands.

READ RELATED: UK Brexit Secretary Confident of Reaching Brexit Deal With EU by Fall’s End

In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Although Brexit is scheduled for late March 2019, London and Brussels still cannot agree on a number of key issues, including the Irish border and customs arrangements, making a no-deal scenario a possibility.

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