The Covid-19 pandemic saw the income of the British Council drop dramatically, the additional government funding was in the form of loans which came with stringent conditions.
Office closures and country withdrawals overseas, and the sale of profitable arms of the examinations business (IELTS in India) are just some of the actions that have come out of this FCDO pressure.
British Council staff did not receive any cost of living pay increase or pay award (bonus) in 2020. Now, they have been told that 15 – 20% staff will be cut from the organisation. In some areas this is up to a third, and additionally some roles overseas are being ‘localised’ which will force UK appointed staff out of their posts and reduce job opportunities.
The British Council’s finances will recover with time, once their business is able to fully re-open, and with the investment into new services and technology that the pandemic has inspired. When this happens they may need to recruit staff to replace the people they made redundant. This is hugely wasteful to public finances and must be stopped
Rushing through restructuring, with little or no political or public scrutiny or oversight will be a disaster for public spending and for Britain’s global soft power influence, which supports the governments Global Britain agenda.
The future of the British Council and independence of the organisation is at stake due to these measures and the government’s wish to review the British Council’s Royal Charter.
We the undersigned want to send a message to government and call on the Foreign Secretary to
- Halt redundancies and office closures
- Increase funding to the British Council to allow them time to recover their finances
- Provide more clarity on the terms and conditions of the FCDO loans to the British Council
- Halt any further actions that threaten the British Council’s independence and charitable status