For 2010-11, the coalition Government has, to date, announced £6 billion of cuts across Government departments. Of that sum, the FCO’s share is £55 million, around 2.5% of the departmental budget (including the budgets of the British Council and the BBC World Service). Following a review of strategic programme activity, the Foreign Secretary announced £18 million worth of cuts at the end of June, with the remaining £37 million of FCO 2010-11 savings coming from the cancellation or reduction of spending on items such as advertising, consultancy, procurement and capital items, cuts in spending by the British Council and the BBC World Service, and income from asset sales.
Beyond 2010-11, the FCO can expect further cuts as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2010, which will be published on 20 October. The CSR will determine the FCO’s budget for the next four financial years (2011-12 to 2014-15). Given the scale of the cuts which are anticipated and the fact that the CSR will determine the FCO’s budget for the expected duration of this Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry will focus primarily on the FCO’s financial situation and the implications of the CSR for the work and performance of the FCO and its associated public bodies.
The FCO published ‘core tables’ of key financial, administrative and policy performance data for 2009-10 as an annex to the FCO’s resource accounts 2009-10, which were laid before Parliament on 30 June 2010. The 2009-10 Annual Reports of the BBC World Service and British Council were laid before Parliament on 6 and 22 July 2010, respectively.
The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows:
- the FCO’s new performance framework: its three new official priorities, the development of the new ‘activity recording process’ against these new priorities, and the department’s new Structural Reform Plan;
- the FCO’s financial management;
- spending allocations and effectiveness within the FCO;
- the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on the FCO’s core business, including the department’s overseas network, and especially as regards future arrangements for the management of the department’s exchange-rate risk, and the allocation and management of overseas spending between the FCO and the Department for International Development;
- the work and performance of the British Council and the BBC World Service, and the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on these organisations.
The Committee will hold two oral evidence sessions for this inquiry on Wednesday 3 and 24 November.
Call for evidence:
Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to submit written evidence to the inquiry on the matters outlined above. Written evidence should be received by the Committee no later than Wednesday 28 October for submissions relating to the work and performance of the British Council and BBC World Service and Friday 12 November for submissions relating to the FCO.
View guidance on submitting written evidence.
Form of written evidence:
Each submission should contain the following information:
- a short summary in bullet point form;
- a brief introduction about the person submitting evidence, perhaps explaining their area of expertise;
- any factual information from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses; and
- any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.
How to format submissions:
Each submission should use:
- numbered paragraphs, and
- MS Word format with as little use of colour/ logos as possible.
Submissions should be sent as an e-mail attachment to [email protected] and titled ‘FCO Performance and Finances Inquiry’. Paper copies may be sent to Foreign Affairs Committee, Committee Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Inquiry related questions:
Please contact the Committee on 020 7219 3309 or by email to [email protected]
Members of the press with enquiries should contact Alex Paterson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 1589, or 07917 488488, or by email to [email protected]