The international development umbrella body Bond is set to lose half its government funding, as charities across the development sector are hit by cuts.
One Bond programme, which brought together more than a dozen aid groups to analyse and learn from their work, will close completely.
The announcement came the day after analysis by Save the Children UK showed that the government was planning to slash funding for nutrition programmes around the world by 80%.
Last week the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced that it was ending two funding programmes for small aid charities. Charities that had been promised grants under those programmes will not now receive funds.
The FCDO has pressed ahead with the cuts despite a manifesto pledge to maintain development spending at 0.7% of gross domestic income. The government also abolished the Department for International Development (DFID) last year, in the face of protests from experts at aid charities.
Bond said in a statement that its Learning from Consortia programme, which brought together 13 aid organisations to collaborate more closely, has been “closed completely”.
The last of the government funding will now be used to close the programme down.
Its Civil Society Collective programme, which aims to strengthen charities’ ability to adapt to crises including the coronavirus pandemic, has been cut by 50%. This funding also covered part of Bond’s work to improve safeguarding in the sector.
The total cuts in government funding come to just under £900,000, a Bond spokesperson confirmed.
Stephanie Draper, the chief executive of Bond, said that the future of the work previously funded by the FCDO was now uncertain.
She said: “Over the years, Bond has brought the sector together to provide a united voice and delivered support and services to NGOs, big and small, in areas such as safeguarding, advocacy and fundraising.
“We will now need to weigh up how we will continue to deliver these important areas of work.”
Draper added: “Regardless of the government's cuts to Bond, with support from our members and our other donors, we will continue to support the humanitarian and development sector in their crucial efforts to help make the world a fairer, safer, healthier and more sustainable place.”
Large charities: Programme cuts are ‘shameful’
Save the Children UK published analysis yesterday suggesting that cuts will mean government spending on nutrition services drops from £122m in 2019 to £26m this year.
Malnutrition contributes to half of all child deaths around the world, the charity said.
Kirsty McNeill, the executive director of policy, advocacy and campaigns at Save the Children UK, said: “The UK’s strategy is incoherent and inconsistent.
“The government is paying lip service to preventing famine while slashing the very programmes that will keep malnourished children alive, at a time when global hunger is increasing.”
Plan International UK said that a separate set of cuts in government funding, which will see an 85% fall in funding for sexual and reproductive health work, was “shameful”.
Rose Caldwell, the chief executive of Plan International UK, said: “Covid-19 is fuelling a hidden pandemic of gender-based violence and we are likely to see a steep rise in early and unwanted pregnancies.
“This is already a leading cause of death for adolescent girls around the world, as well as one of the main reasons why girls drop out of school early.”
Small charity funding ‘wiped out’
The Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN) said that the government’s decision to abolish the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF), which gave grants to thousands of development groups with income under £1m, “has wiped out support for small charities”.
Claire Collins, a trustee at SIDCN, told Civil Society News that some charities decided not to apply for other funding after being promised support from the SCCF, only to see the government funds withdrawn.
SIDCN warned in March that jobs and programmes were at risk when the government started to pause decisions on allocating funding.
EdUKAid, a charity which works with children in Tanzania, said that the government’s decision to withdraw funding was “devastating”.
It said in a statement: “Just three weeks before we were due to launch the second phase of our incredibly successful Inclusive Education project, we were informed that all UK Aid funding through the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) had been ‘paused’.
“This week we received the devastating news that the funding offer made in July 20 has now been withdrawn.”
The charity had been planning work to support 300 children living with special educational needs.
Irise International, which works in East Africa to address social inequalities caused by a lack of information about menstruation, announced on social media that its programme supporting girls to stay in school in Uganda would have to be cut after the government scrapped its funding.