I am announcing today the start of a tailored review of the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Established by Royal Charter in 1940, the British Council builds relationships and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries.
As a non-department public body (NDPB) sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the British Council is required to undergo a tailored review at least once in every Parliament. The principal aims of tailored reviews are to ensure public bodies remain fit for purpose, are well governed and properly accountable for what they do.
The review will provide a robust scrutiny of, and assurance on, the continuing need for the British Council—both its function and its form. It will then assess the governance and control arrangements in place to ensure they are compliant with the recognised principles of good corporate governance and delivering good value for money. The structure, efficiency and effectiveness of the British Council will be considered throughout the review.
A challenge panel, chaired by a FCO non-executive director, will examine the findings of both stages of the review.
The review will follow guidance published in 2016 by the Cabinet Office: “Tailored Reviews: Guidance on Reviews of Public Bodies” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tailored-reviews-of-public-bodies-guidance. The terms of reference for the review can be found on gov.uk.
In conducting this tailored review, officials will engage with a broad range of stakeholders across the UK and overseas, including across UK Government, devolved Administrations, foreign Governments, business and civil society, as well as with the British Council’s own staff and management.
I shall inform the House of the outcome of the review when it is completed and copies of the report of the review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.