Priorities: In 2008-11 the plan was organized around three themes; intercultural dialogue; creative industries; climate change. For the new period the priorities are arts, English and education.
Funding: The Council is looking at a 26% cut in direct government funding across the period at the same time it is looking to increase its income by 8% per annum with the result that by the end of the period the government grant will form only 16% of income. This means that average annual growth rates for other income sources have to grow at high annual rates so we get projected growth of teaching 13%, exams 9%, partnership 15%, contracts 13%.
Priority countries: Priority countries have been identified on the basis of 1) strategic importance defined as ‘relevance to government and stakeholder priorities and British Council objectives’ 2) potential for impact at scale and 3) business feasibility. Within each country activities are shaped by a) level of economic development and b)’ openness to people, knowledge and ideas from other cultures’
So priority countries are
Americas: Brazil, Mexico and USA
East Asia: China, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam
Europe: France and Germany
Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, UAE
South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, South Africa
Wider Europe: Israel, Russia, Turkey
It looks like the reduction in the FCO grant is accentuating the need to follow the money with the Council focusing on activities where it can generate income. Having said this the new corporate plan does not provide much detail on how it will achieve the growth in income required by the projections. The reorientation of the Council’s work is being accompanied by job cuts and an effort to reduce the costs of real estate by using partner organizations to host their activities.
I’m certainly getting the impression that the past decade’s effort to build a comprehensive public diplomacy activity for the UK has run out of steam but I’ll pick this up in a later post.