Tuesday 11 August 2020 / 8:28 AM International Development / Preet Gill

The Prime Minister’s Whitehall restructure expected to cost at least £50 million to the taxpayer

In June, the Prime Minister announced a large-scale Whitehall restructure that will see the Department for International Development (DfID) taken over by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The DfID takeover is expected to cost at least £50 million to the British taxpayer, money that could have been better spent during this Covid-19 crisis paying for more than 2,000 qualified nurses or 8.3 million Covid-19 antibody tests.

The Prime Minister’s plan has been roundly criticised by pundits and politicians from all sides including the Sutton Coldfield Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell, former Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the former Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who all agree that it is a mistake that will significantly damage the respect and influence the UK has built up overseas.

Not only will the restructure cost the UK taxpayer millions of pounds but it risks limiting the lifesaving support UK aid provides to the world’s poorest, especially during health crises which do not respect borders, like global pandemics. In Sierra Leone, there are only 13 ventilators to support the whole nation, Somalia has only 15 intensive care beds, and in Bangladesh there is only one doctor for every 2,000 people.

 

Preet Kaur Gill MP, Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary, commenting on the costs said:

“The Government should be completely focused on getting on with its job of governing the country and steering us through the huge challenges we face. 

“Getting rid of an independent Department for International Development during a global pandemic is irresponsible, counter-productive and wrong. It is consistently rated as the most effective and transparent department at delivering real value for money for British taxpayers, whereas the Foreign Office routinely ranks far worse.

“At a time when we need the global health expertise to drive the global response to Covid-19 and avoid further deadly waves, abolishing the department will undoubtedly put the lives of people here in the UK and those abroad at serious risk.”