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DFID Poverty Impact Fund consultation - A response from the Trades Union Congress

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date

Prepared by Vicky Cann

September 2010

Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

t: 020 7467 1239 f: 020 7467 1343 web:

General Secretary: Brendan Barber


Poverty Impact Fund consultation response from the Trades Union Congress

  • The TUC is the voice of Britain at work. We represent working people from all walks of life and we campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad. We do this by building links with elected representatives, business and institutions, local communities and wider society. Our vision for our 2011-15 international development strategy is productive, sustainable and decent work for all (MDG Target 1.b) and good living standards for workers, families and communities, based on the principles of human rights, equality and global justice. Our international development objective is to work towards fulfilling that vision. Our partnership work with southern unions and interaction with DFID in joint forums and at departmental level is key to achieving that objective.
  • The TUC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the consultation on the proposed Poverty Impact Fund (PIF).

What are your views on the overall design and scope of the Poverty Impact Fund?


  • Ensuring that there are quality public services available for all in developing countries is a fundamental part of development and helping people to move out of poverty.
  • DFID needs to clarify what it means by service delivery. We would advocate that a broad interpretation is taken and that this would cover projects which provide services, as well as projects which aim to advocate around service delivery. Traditionally, trade unions do both: they work with policy-makers and civil society to improve the reach and effectiveness of public services, often using their experiences as members of the service delivery workforce. Meanwhile some trade unions work to deliver particular services such as HIV testing to their members and their families. The TUC believes that this fund should be designed to include both activities.
  • With the emphasis of the proposed PIF on service delivery by civil society organisations, it will be important that this fund supports rather than detracts from government-led provision of public services: health, education, water, sanitation, housing and other areas. We also strongly hope that the funding for the PIF represents new funds, rather than funds that were previously allocated to direct budget support for governments to provide public services.
  • In creating this fund, we hope that DFID considers its impact on the existing provision of services. How can this fund avoid drawing workers away from public services to NGOs? How can this fund avoid the fragmentation of service delivery? How can governments in country be able to oversee and monitor the resulting multiplicity of service providers, both in terms of quality and reach? How can this fund maximise the sustainability of service provision?

Other DFID funds

  • The relationship between the PIF and the Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) should be made clear. The TUC believes it is crucial that the CSCF's emphasis on capacity-building, rights-based approaches, advocacy and empowerment are maintained, in their own right.


  • DFID needs to give more consideration to trade union style organisations when designing such funds. British trade unions will not fall under DFID's definition of 'small' organisations (less than £500,000 income per year) even though a union's actual spend on international development activities may well be less than £500,000. This could mean that DFID, perhaps inadvertently, ends up excluding trade union organisations, even though they have a huge amount of experience in public service delivery. This limitation could also exclude other professional organisations such as the BMA or the Royal College of Nursing who also have long standing international links in developing countries.


  • Further clarification is needed on the expected relationship between the UK civil society organisation and the overseas partner(s). The guidance given in the context of the CSCF is helpful and appropriate and could perhaps be applied to the PIF. But the TUC believes that DFID should also consider fully opening this fund to direct applications from organisations based in the global south. In this case, this will have implications for the design of the fund and the eligibility of applicants.


  • Further clarification is needed on ineligible activities:

Research can be an important component of projects to improve service delivery, especially in terms of helping to determine what does and does not work. Clarification is needed on what research is permitted under this fund.

Discrimination against certain groups. It is vital that this clause is worded in such a way to ensure that projects aimed at harder-to-reach groups: women, people living in rural areas, people living with HIV AIDs, are not excluded.


  • The emphasis on countries where DFID has a country office should be reviewed as it is likely to exclude work to reach marginalised people in other countries. One of the benefits of funding civil society organisations is that it enables DFID to have reach into other places. This is especially the caser if wider cuts in DFID staffing lead to the closure of country offices.

What are your comments on particular elements of the design:

The number of grants that can be held by a CSO at any one time

  • These provisions seem sensible, as is the provision that the grants should not exceed 40 per cent of an organisation's annual income.

Matched funding levels

  • Matched funding of 50 per cent for larger grants, and 25 per cent for smaller grants are very high and may exclude many civil society organisations from applying, especially those in the global south. The TUC would oppose the imposition of matched funding limits, and would like to understand DFID's reasoning for suggesting it.
  • If it is to leverage extra funds for development or to save DFID resources, we believe that monitoring matched funding requirements will take up a greater amount of staff time, than simply supporting 100 per cent funded projects. If DFID wishes to encourage collaboration and better coordination between different organisations, there may well be better ways to do this, including encouraging joint bids. Finally, a long approval process for PIF funds ie. the current seven or eight months for CSCF applications, will make meeting matched funding requirements very difficult.
  • If matched funding requirements are to be imposed, substantial clarification is required on what is considered to be matched funding. We believe a broad approach should be taken which would include goods-in-kind and UK costs.

For further clarification on the issues raised in this submission, please contact:

Vicky Cann

International programmes officer, TUC

020 7467 1239

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