31 March 2022

Politicians express concerns over swingeing cuts to British Council

Serious concerns about the staffing cuts and redundancies at the British Council have been raised with foreign secretary Liz Truss by a cross-party group of parliamentarians.

PCS members from across the globe have so far taken 2 days’ of strike action over plans to make more than 200 workers redundant. 

We also have concerns over restructuring and outsourcing at the organisation, which promotes the English language and British culture overseas. 

The 21 MPs and peers urged the foreign secretary, in a letter published today, to make representations to the British Council to suggest they “take every possible step to ensure that the critical experience and skills of the current workforce are not lost, and that compulsory redundancies are avoided wherever possible”.

They stressed the “enormous value (the British Council has) in terms of our cultural influence on the global stage.”

“We believe that the current programme of cuts and outsourcing, including the closure of offices and withdrawal from some countries altogether, represents a significant threat to the future viability of the organisation,” they wrote.

While staffing levels are ultimately matters for British Council management the parliamentarians pointed out that the FCDO is responsible for “setting the financial context in which they are obliged to operate.”

Our members are demanding:

  • A fair, open and transparent approach and process for transformation. And for management to share the full picture and business case with staff.
  • No forced redundancies – only those who want to leave to go on voluntary terms.
  • No privatisation/outsourcing of jobs – keep the work in-house for a better service for the public and better conditions for staff.

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