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FCO Programme Spending 2014-15

Volume 584: debated on Thursday 10 July 2014

In my statement to the House of 11 June 2013, Official Report, column 4WS, I set out the funding allocations for the FCO’s strategic programmes for the financial year 2013-14. I now wish to inform the House of our spending plans for financial year 2014-15, together with information on how we will deploy the funds effectively.

The FCO’s strategic programmes directly support the delivery of two of our foreign policy priorities: safeguarding the UK’s national security; and building the UK’s prosperity; plus our important work to promote the UK’s values. Our programmes allow us to work alongside Governments and civil society around the world to deliver projects which enhance our bilateral relationships, achieve our international objectives, and strengthen the UK’s position internationally.

The total allocation for financial year 2014-15 is £104.05 million, of which £76.5 million will count as official development assistance. This is a reduction of £29.5 million compared to last financial year, and is in line with a planned reduction in FCO programme spend during this Parliament. In order to live within our settlement, most programmes have been subject to some reduction this year. Some, however, have remained unchanged, some have seen a small increase and some new areas of expenditure were added. The allocations were made in accordance with our priorities, taking account of wider Government spending. We have ensured that the total FCO strategic programme fund remains above £100 million. As set out in the autumn statement, the FCO will receive additional ODA funding in 2015-16 and we therefore expect programme allocations to rise again in financial year 2015-16.

For financial year 2014-15,1 have allocated £21.75 million in the area of security; £22.52 million for prosperity work that includes £3 million funds for the GREAT campaign; and £59.78 million for bilateral, regional and human rights-related programmes.

Keeping British people safe from terrorism remains a top priority for the Foreign Office and the whole of Government. The FCO counter-terrorism programme fund (CTPF) is the main fund for terrorism-related assistance to foreign countries used by the FCO’s counter-terrorism department. This is complemented by other budgets used for counter-terrorism related activities and the tri-departmental (FCO, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence) conflict pool, as I set out in my statement to the House on 24 June 2014. The CTPF has been reduced this year as we redirect FCO resources to where they can have the most impact, and move some programmes to other Government Departments who are better placed to carry out that work. However, it remains one of the largest FCO programme funds. Our priority CT work this year includes aviation security and building counter-terrorism capacity in key regions such as Asia, the middle east and Africa.

We will also continue to support counter-proliferation work, including through strengthening the international rules-based system that underpins our efforts. We will remain engaged in Afghanistan during transition, working on law enforcement, security, governance, rule of law and democracy. We will work closely with Afghan partners to ensure UK-funded projects are sustained in the long term.

A new £1 billion conflict, stability and security fund will build on the success of the existing conflict pool by bringing together more resources for defence, diplomacy, development and security assistance to tackle the causes and manifestations of conflict and instability abroad. This work will be guided by the National Security Council.

In November 2011 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set a target of 100,000 more companies exporting by 2020 and, in the 2012 Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer set a goal of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020. FCO, UKTI and BIS are working together to reach the £1 trillion target.

The FCO continues to support work to increase economic growth and meet this target by building the four conditions for global and UK growth, specifically working towards: openness—working for transparency and a strong, rules-based international economic system; sustainability—avoiding the dangers of climate change, seeking more affordable and secure energy supplies, working for a low-carbon economy, and promoting science and innovation; reputation—promoting Britain as an international partner of choice and an important destination for business, tourism and study; and opportunity—helping British companies win new business and promoting education and research partnerships and innovation as drivers of growth. The FCO’s work overseas complements the work undertaken in other Government Departments towards generating economic growth at home. The FCO’s prosperity fund projects relating to climate change are aimed to complement HMG funding on climate change, for example, through assisting with the development of low-carbon economic strategies in emerging countries.

The GREAT campaign is used by the FCO and other Government partners in over 140 countries to promote the UK as a world-class destination for business, investment, education and tourism. GREAT activity at home and abroad in 2013-14 is projected to generate economic benefits worth £600 million-£800 million to the British economy over the next five years.

The work to build our international influence will focus on promoting human rights, democracy and good governance. I allocated specific funds for the global summit to end sexual violence in conflict which took place in June. We will maintain our support for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; maintain the current number of scholarships, which are an important element in Britain’s public diplomacy effort and bring young professionals, with strong leadership potential, to study a wide range of academic disciplines including the humanities, science, the law and international relations in the UK. The programme offers scholars the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the UK and to build strong links with the UK. Over its 30 years Chevening has built up a large and influential alumni network of 43,000 scholars in more than 150 countries favourably disposed to the UK and ready to support our interests, with whom we maintain contact and many of whom have played a key role in helping us achieve our international objectives. We will maintain our commitment to the overseas territories; and we will continue to work with DFID on the Arab Partnership Participation Fund, delivering a UK strategic priority through long-term reform programmes which support the transition of countries such as Tunisia to more open and inclusive societies.