British Council: Coronavirus

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Labour, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much emergency funding he plans to allocate to the British Council to enable that organisation to continue operating and paying staff after May 2020.

Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Labour, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of funding required from the Government to enable the British Council to continue to operate following the reduction in the income of that organisation as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Labour, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that the British Council is not required to reduce the (a) wages of its staff and (b) number of jobs in that organisation as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Labour, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will take steps to protect the future of British Council by providing emergency funding to that organisation until its income from English teaching abroad has returned to the level it was prior to the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The FCO remains committed to the British Council, who are a key driver of our soft power overseas and a precious part of the FCO family. In order to help stabilise their immediate financial position following the impact of Covid-19 on their ability to operate, we agreed to provide the British Council with £26m of additional funding for the 2019-20 financial year. We have also provided some of their 2020-21 Grant-in-Aid funding upfront this month to further alleviate pressures.

The FCO have also supported the British Council in accessing wider government relief available through the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme and similar schemes in other countries. This will help them support many of their workforce, and those employed through its partners, funded through the commercial side of their business. We will continue to work closely with the British Council in the coming days and weeks to address the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to operate.

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