Save Children UK can bid for Government funding again after improving safeguarding standards

  • Save The Children UK can restart applying for new UK aid funding from Thursday 10 September
  • The charity voluntarily withdrew from bidding processes in April 2018
  • This comes as the Foreign Secretary launches new plan to stamp out sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation in the aid sector

Save the Children UK can begin bidding for UK aid funding again after significantly improving its safeguarding standards, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced today (Thursday 10 September).

The charity voluntarily withdrew from bidding for new Government funding in April 2018, after the Charity Commission launched an inquiry over concerns about its handling of sexual harassment allegations against senior staff.

It came against a backdrop of revelations about sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment in the aid sector in early 2018.

Save the Children UK has taken significant steps to improve its approach to safeguarding and meet the UK Government’s high standards since then. This includes making safeguarding a key feature of staff training, introducing a new set of behaviours it expects of leaders, and increasing the size of its safeguarding HR team.

In addition, Save the Children UK has signed up to the new UK-backed Misconduct Disclosure Scheme, which aims to stop perpetrators of sexual abuse from moving around the aid sector undetected by allowing employers to share misconduct data with each other.

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made clear today that the FCDO will maintain DFID’s high safeguarding standards and take action if any charity fails to meet the strict standards the UK expects of all its partners in future.

This comes as he launches a new strategy on safeguarding in the aid sector, which sets out the approach for tackling sexual abuse, exploitation and sexual harassment in all aid-spending departments and across the charity sector, including within UK aid-funded programmes delivered by external partners.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

We take a zero tolerance approach to sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation, and we are taking action to stamp it out of the aid sector to protect the most vulnerable people.

We have robust measures in place to make sure any charities receiving UK aid have strong safeguarding policies, and it remains a top priority in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Save the Children UK has been subject to a Charity Commission inquiry which began in April 2018 and concluded in March this year.

The inquiry report criticised Save the Children UK’s handling of safeguarding cases in 2012 and 2015 but recognised the progress the charity had made over the last five years. It confirmed no further action by the Charity Commission was needed.

Since early 2018, DFID and now FCDO officials have been working closely with all funding partners, including Save the Children UK, to help them improve the quality of their safeguarding.

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children UK said:

We welcome the Foreign Secretary’s announcement. The FCDO is leading the UK’s efforts to respond to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on some of the world’s most deprived children – and we look forward to supporting those efforts through our programmes.

Save the Children has accepted and acted on all the Charity Commission’s recommendations. We will continue to strive for a working culture built on kindness, respect and fairness.

Like all organisations that receive UK aid funding, Save the Children UK will continue to be measured against the government’s strict safeguarding standards, which will include providing evidence the charity has clear processes for investigating any allegations of misconduct and protecting whistle-blowers.

Oxfam also voluntarily withdrew from bidding for Government funding in February 2018, after the Charity Commission launched an inquiry into its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by senior staff during the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The Charity Commission’s process to follow-up the recommendations of its inquiry into Oxfam has not yet concluded.

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