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Cross-Government Funds Review

Volume 638: debated on Wednesday 28 March 2018

I wish to update the House on how the Government have reviewed the cross-Government funds in order to better support poverty reduction, as well as global and UK security and prosperity.

The major cross-Government funds supporting our national security strategy are the conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF) and prosperity fund (PF). They are a flexible instrument of Government policy overseas. The funds use part of the UK’s aid budget to support developing economies, fragile states and regions to prevent conflict and to promote the conditions that drive global prosperity.

As part of the national security capability review (NSCR), the national security adviser (NSA) commissioned a review of the cross-Government funds. The review covered the CSSF, the PF and the empowerment fund (EF). The Government are committed to ensuring accountability and transparency in our aid spending and this review forms part of our ongoing work to ensure we are delivering value for taxpayers and results for the world’s poorest. The report on this review provides more detail on the NSCR’s specific recommendations and findings for the funds.

The review found that the CSSF and PF were effective mechanisms for making strategic, co-ordinated, prioritised and integrated use of overseas development assistance (ODA) and non-ODA resources. They drive greater flexibility, broader geographic and thematic reach, and greater diversity in programming than could be achieved through departmental allocations alone.

The review noted that the funds gain greater strategic importance as delivery mechanisms for the National Security Council (NSC) as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Redefining Britain’s place in the world will require us to use our diplomatic, development and defence assets to best effect, which the funds can help deliver. The funds are particularly innovative given their secondary benefits: creating opportunities for international business, including UK business, enhancing UK soft power, and reducing domestic threats.

The empowerment fund was set up to improve links with emerging economies, help tackle extremism globally and support good governance. The review found that the EF’s proposed geographic focus overlapped with that of the CSSF and PF. Integrating its aims into the other two funds would improve efficiency, simplify governance and strengthen delivery. Soft power objectives in support of NSC priorities will therefore now be delivered through the CSSF and PF as well as through other departmental funding mechanisms.

As a result of the review, we will enhance the cross-Government funds by improving strategic direction through the new national security doctrine, the fusion doctrine, governance through a new ministerial committee, and efficient administration by merging the secretariats into a single funds unit.

Implementation of the recommendations of the review across the areas of strategic direction, governance and delivery and capability is now fully under way. I have agreed to chair the new ministerial committee that will set the funds’ strategic direction. A new joint funds unit will be launched in April 2018. All these measures will streamline governance and drive greater coherence. More on the recommendations of the review can be found in the accompanying report.

Further updates on the cross-Government funds will be available on funds’ at GOV.UK pages: