Save the Children UK withdraws from bidding for DfID funding

The charity says it wants to build back trust after recent revelations about sexual harassment

Save the Children's work in Ethiopia
Save the Children's work in Ethiopia

Save the Children UK has withdrawn from bidding for funding from the Department for International Development until it has addressed concerns about sexual harassment, the charity announced today.

In a statement posted on its website, Save the Children said it would not apply for new funding from DfID until it had proved it was meeting government standards.

The charity's latest accounts show it received almost £139m in funding from the UK government in the year to 31 Decemeber 2016. However, existing DfID-funded programmes will not be affected by the decision, the charity said. 

Earlier this month, the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into Save the Children over its handling, reporting and response to claims of misconduct and harassment by senior members of staff.

Save the Children has been hit by a number of revelations in recent months about the sexual misconduct by former senior employees during their time at the charity. These included the charity's former chief executive, Justin Forsyth, sending inappropriate texts to female staff members.

Allegations were also made against Brendan Cox, the charity’s former policy director and widower of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, about inappropriate behaviour towards women. 

Last week, Sir Alan Parker resigned as chair of Save the Children International after he was criticised for his handling of the investigations into sexual misconduct.

In a letter to Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, Save the Children chief executive Kevin Watkins said: "While I greatly regret both the circumstances that have brought us to this juncture and the consequences for children, I fully recognise our responsibility to meet the high standards that you rightly expect.

"I want to underscore how seriously we take the sexual harassment cases reported at our headquarters in 2012 and 2015. We are cooperating fully with the Charity Commission’s inquiry to ensure that a complete and truthful account of these cases emerges.

"I speak for everyone at Save the Children when I say that we are absolutely committed to building back trust in our organisation – from the children and communities that we serve, to our donors and supporters and UK taxpayers."

Mordaunt said in a statement: "I am committed to driving up standards across the aid sector and I expect every organisation that we work with to have rigorous reporting and complaints mechanisms in place to protect beneficiaries and employees alike."

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