Lives at risk from falling pound, say charities

Aid provided by Oxfam to the hurricane victims in Haiti is not going as far thanks to the falling pound Image copyright EPA
Image caption Aid provided by Oxfam to the hurricane victims in Haiti is not going as far thanks to the falling pound

Charities have said the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable people are being put at risk by the falling value of the pound.

The value of the pound has fallen sharply since the EU referendum over worries about the impact of Brexit.

This means donations made to aid agencies are now worth up to 15% less than they were earlier this year.

Oxfam and Action Aid say they will need to stop or curtail future aid programmes.

Alison Hopkinson, finance director at Oxfam, said the effect of the falling pound was now one of its main challenges.

"The value of the pound collapsed by about 15% in the last year, which is significant for the buying power of partners in the countries we work in," she said.

"In Nepal, we build shelters for those affected by last year's earthquake. Last year we built 500,000 shelter; this year we will build 50,000 fewer.

Image caption Oxfam's Alison Hopkinson said the charity could not respond "as we would like" to disasters

"It is the same with hygiene kits for people in Haiti affected by the recent hurricane. There is a serious outbreak of cholera and we have to be out there.

"If we are restricted on the money we have to spend then lives are put at risk."

Mike Noyes, head of humanitarian response at Action Aid, said it was facing a similar challenge.

Equipment and logistics were usually priced in dollars, he said, and these purchases were best made made overseas as transporting British-bought items was too expensive and adversely affected local economies.

"We already focus heavily on value for money and there is very little fat left in the system," he said. "We will have to have a more narrow focus on what we do and have smaller ambitions."

A Charity Commission spokesman did not comment on the agencies' concerns.

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