Oxfam GB allowed to resume bidding for government aid funds after three-year hiatus

The charity agreed to withdraw from applying for government funds in the wake of the safeguarding story that broke in February 2018

Oxfam GB has been told it can resume bidding for aid funding after a three-year pause as the government announced a new programme to tackle sexual abuse in the aid sector.

The Charity Commission announced last month that it had put the charity back on a standard regulatory footing after concluding that it had made “significant improvements on safeguarding”.

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in February 2018 after it emerged that Oxfam GB had failed to adequately report the extent of sexual misconduct allegations by project workers in Haiti.

The charity agreed to withdraw from bidding for government funding at the time.

The commission issued the charity with an official warning on the publication of its inquiry report in June 2019, which concluded that there was mismanagement and "a culture of tolerating poor behaviour”.

The charity had been under statutory supervision as it worked on a list of 100 actions or recommendations to improve its governance that formed part of the warning issued by the regulator.

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, welcomed the government’s decision to allow the charity to bid for aid funds.

“We are deeply committed to continue improving our safeguarding and ensuring that our lifesaving and life-changing work is carried out in a way that is safe and consistent with our values,” he said.

“There must be no place for perpetrators of abuse within Oxfam or the wider sector.

“While the Charity Commission found that we have made significant progress in addressing our past failings, we know there is more to do.

“We are determined to do everything in our power to prevent misconduct, ensure communities feel safe to report concerns and support the needs and wishes of survivors.”

As the government confirmed that Oxfam GB can resume making bids for aid funding, it also announced the launch of a programme intended to help bring to justice perpetrators of sexual abuse, exploitation or sexual harassment in the aid sector.

The initiative will include developing a new way to report abuse anonymously through an online platform, which will be piloted in Zambia.

The platform will connect survivors with organisations that can help them access further support, including taking their case to the police or the perpetrator’s employer, if they wish.

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