Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum from the British Council


  The total grant-in-aid for the next three years is as follows:


    —  Allowing for inflation, the figure of £184.7 million for 2005-06 represents a real terms increase of 9.6 per cent over our grant-in-aid this year. (Although part of the increase in 2003-04 is attributable to the uplift we received in the 2000 Spending Review (a real term increase of 9.1 per cent) and to Overseas Price Mechanism adjustments.)

    —  The total extra money in cash terms is £35 million, made up of £5 million in 2003-04, £10 million in 2004-05 and £20 million in 2005-06.

    —  This represents 61 per cent of the British Council's bid of £57.6 million and the organisation regards this as a vote of confidence in the major role it has to play in cultural relations and public diplomacy.

    —  The Treasury has retained a separate line for the British Council in the White Paper. Our settlement is, however, broadly in line with what the BBC World Service and the FCO itself have received.

    —  The White Paper indicates that funding is being provided to enable us to strengthen our work in education and to increase our activities in transitional countries and the developing world. In particular, it singles out Connecting Futures, our campaign to increase dialogue and mutual understanding between young people in the UK and the Arab and Muslim worlds, as the centrepiece of the British Council's new work.

    —  Funding is also being made available to increase our support for the Prime Minister's Initiative to increase the number of fee-paying international students studying for UK qualifications, both through distance learning and in the UK itself.

    —  In addition, the settlement includes provision for capital expenditure to enable us to modernise our global finance and business systems to improve efficiency and customer service, and for security.

    —  However, the government requires us to deliver a 2.5 per cent efficiency gain each year, and the investment required for infrastructure, new skills and innovation is considerable.

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Prepared 14 November 2002