Aid charities to be told to take action against sex abuse

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt who has warned that Oxfam will have funding withdrawn if it fails to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues. Picture; PA
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt who has warned that Oxfam will have funding withdrawn if it fails to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues. Picture; PA
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Aid charities will today be told to take action to restore trust and improve standards following the sex scandal which engulfed the sector.

Ahead of a London summit, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and the Charity Commission told charities, regulatory bodies and experts that it was a “crucial moment” and “now is the time for action”.

Ms Mordaunt has also tasked delegates to come up with measures to ensure whistleblowers and survivors of exploitation or abuse are given counselling and support, the creation of an independent body to ensure standards and scrutiny, and new standards of vetting and referencing.

Attendees must also set out how they will change culture to tackle power imbalances, encourage reporting of abuse, take allegations more seriously and hold people to 
account.

NGOs and charities in attendance will sign a joint statement setting out the key principles they will adhere to, and agree a set of practical actions to take forward in an effort to improve standards and restore trust in the sector.

Ms Mordaunt said ahead of the event: “Now is the time for action. The aid sector needs to ensure it is meeting its duty of care to the world’s most vulnerable people. It needs to be honest about past mistakes. It must do all it can to win back the trust of the British public.”

Charity Commission chairwoman Baroness Stowell said: “Not only have some aid workers abused the people they were sent to support, but by not exposing and responding to these serious failings properly at the time, charities have betrayed the public’s trust in what the word charity actually means. I am encouraged to see leaders of international aid agencies coming together at today’s summit.”