Government criticised for delaying match-fund payments until next year

The government’s decision to delay funding from its UK Aid Match scheme until next year is a “betrayal”, according to one charity.

In November, the government encouraged charities working in developing countries to apply to take part in its UK Aid Match scheme, a £2m initiative that would match-fund public donations.

Run by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, it matched public donations pound for pound over a three-month period, up to a total of £2m.

But War Child, which supports children and young people affected by conflict, announced yesterday that its match funding would now not be available for nearly a year, leaving one of its projects facing an uncertain future.

The charity said the 10-month delay would mean that the 3,430 children it was going to reach, along with their caregivers, would be left without support, because the funding was earmarked for opening new centres in Afghanistan where children could learn vocational skills and complete their education.

The charity said the government’s decision was a betrayal of the supporters in the UK who fundraised and donated £500,000 to the project on the understanding it would be match-funded and put to immediate use.

The actor Carey Mulligan, global ambassador for War Child UK, said in a statement: “I urge the government to reverse this damaging decision and keep their word to the public who donated so generously in such a challenging year, and most importantly the children we all committed to helping.”

The government confirmed that War Child, as with other UK Aid Match campaigns awaiting funding, had the disbursement of its funding delayed until next year.

It said the delay would allow the government to protect its investment and that it had offered to sign an agreement with War Child in advance to provide full assurance of that commitment.

But it declined to confirm how many projects had been affected by the delay.

An FCDO spokesperson said: “The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid.

“We have protected War Child’s UK Aid Match funding because we value its work and the results it will deliver.”

The government said all UK Aid Match commitments would be protected, but in some cases there would be a delay in releasing the guaranteed funding.

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