DFID retains departmental independence

14 Feb 2020

The SMP welcomes Anne-Marie Trevelyan, as the new Secretary of State for International Development within the UK Government, and we look forward to working with her in this role.

There had been significant concerns across civil society that, in the much anticipated reshuffle, the Department for International Development (DFID) might either be lost entirely or might lose its seat in Cabinet, and hence become an extension of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  We join with many others in welcoming the UK Government’s re-commitment to DFID and its continued existence as a department independent of the FCO.

The UK has much it can be proud of in its relationship with Malawi.  DFID Malawi is continuing to transform some of the most vulnerable lives for the better, and the FCO, through the British High Commission, is helping strengthen and maintain important diplomatic links with Malawi. 

The SMP is strongly supportive of both DFID and the FCO.  However, we believe it is crucial for the success of both that they remain independent of each other.  The FCO exists to advance Britain’s interests abroad: it is about building relationships and influencing others to act in a way that benefits the UK.  In contrast, DFID exists to fight extreme poverty, the great moral outrage of our time.  DFID must be able to prioritise work based on objective assessment as to where there is greatest need and where it can have greatest impact. 

International development is undertaken, whether by governments, NGOs or the people, to combat extreme poverty.  It must not be used as a tool for exerting soft power, or a mechanism to advance the UK’s own economic or political interests. 

For this reason, we welcome the decision by the UK Government to continue to have DFID as a department independent of the FCO.