MPs have warned that the merger of the Foreign Office and Department for International Development (Dfid) must not lead to a lessening of aid expertise.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee insisted creating the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) ‘risks weakening the cultures of each department’.
The study said the merger raised ‘the possibility of losing highly skilled staff who have helped to build the UK’s reputation as a leading provider of aid’.
The report comes as the Government announced it was cutting the £15.8 billion international development budget by £2.9 billion this year due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tory chairman of the committee, Tom Tugendhat, a Catholic, said: “Co-operation will determine the success of the merger.
“For the new FCDO to manage all of its responsibilities effectively the new leadership will need a strategic outlook that builds on the strengths of the staff.
“Urgent responses are needed to global challenges from dealing with the departure from the Covid emergency, the need to build new alliances and the response to climate change so the new department will have no time to settle in.
“They’ll also need to show that our commitment to international aid still delivers.
“We’ll need an integrated and strategic approach to foreign policy, including the UK’s leadership roles in 2021.
“That will demand more clarity from the Government.
“From bringing together the different cultures, to ensuring highly skilled and well-respected experts are not lost as a result.
“This merger is an opportunity to use the best of each department as a springboard to a stronger foreign policy delivering for the British people, if done right.”
The report stated the FCDO needs ‘openness to outside expertise and transparency of aid spending’.
It added: ‘An openness to outside expertise and transparency of aid spending will ensure the new department is delivering on its purpose.
‘Staff retention must be a priority.’
The report stated: ‘We ask for clarity on the ways in which staff will be assigned in the new department, and on how the Government intends to retain staff with valuable expertise.
‘We ask for clarity on how the merger will leads to greater efficiency in terms of administrative costs and overseas spending.’
Picture: Archive photo, dated 12/8/2014, of logistics officer Beverley Sarpong placing UK Aid stickers onto cargo pallets containing British aid items destined for areas suffering humanitarian crisis at Dfid’s UK Disaster Response Operations Centre at Cotswold Airport, Kemble. (Ben Birchall/PA).