Latest Blogs

What next for UK Aid? by Tariq Siraj

The future of DFID has been a talking point ever since the idea of bringing it under the umbrella of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office was mooted in 2018 and 2019. Since Boris Johnson’s resounding election victory in December it then seemed a matter of ‘if’ rather than ‘when’. However if the most recent reports are to be believed it seems that DFID will remain as a stand-alone department in its own right, but perhaps lose a dedicated secretary of state – currently Alok Sharma – and instead be handed to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The long-term future of DFID has actually been up in the air since mid-2016; the Brexit result – as it did with so much else – created a ton of uncertainty. Since then, International Development advisories have been trying to shake off an over-reliance on DFID projects and instead expanding their scope more and more to the myriad of other national, regional and global aid funding institutions and banks. As the growing assumption is of a diminishing level of importance for DFID, that will probably prove to be a sound approach.

But what will DFID’s role actually be? If it loses a dedicated head and cheerleader then the feeling is that it’s £14 billion budget will simply be enveloped into the FCO’s wider portfolio and DFID’s impact as a globally-admired aid entity will be no more. Keeping it’s status as a stand-alone department no more than an empty gesture to appease those championing it.   However, recent history tells us that there are a few ways such a policy can end up…

In 2013 both Australia and Canada merged aid and foreign policy departments with offering results. The fairly reckless nature of Australian government’s move – which took everyone by surprise – resulted in a clash of cultures which still exists today and a loss of strategic vision around the use of aid, transparency and evaluation capacity. In Canada the move was planned far more in advance and has had positive results regarding efficiencies and less of a shock to the system culturally – but the over-arching view seems to be a negative one and that aid has become to politicised and influenced by foreign policy strategies.

Norway then followed suit in 2014 – again to fundamentally keep closer control over aid operations in the face of an ever growing budget and level of autonomy.  Norway implemented a hybrid model which has left NORAD semi-autonomous and many feel leaves the programme in limbo.

So what should the UK do? Most experts believe the motivation itself is key in driving a successful transition and whether there is genuine will to keep development interests separate from national self-interests. The UK’s aid budget is legally ringfenced at 0.7% of GDPR and one would hope the long-in-the-making policy will create a smoother cultural transition – but fundamentally a merger itself will surely signal a decline in DFID’s standing around the world as a model development agency. British leadership and influence more generally in the developing world has been declining and maybe DFID – as a benchmark to others of how to do things properly – is exactly what’s needed as we enter the slightly unknown world beyond Brexit.

by Tariq Siraj


Is sleep the answer to a healthier life? by Catriona Cookson

I noticed over the last few weeks as we left one year and entered another, there was a lot of coverage about sleep and how important it is, not just important but really important! I heard the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation asked on television “What is the one thing we could all do in 2020 to improve our mental health?” His answer was simple – “Get more sleep”

Last week on my commute to work I listened to a fascinating Desert Island Discs episode – even if DIC is not your thing, this one s well worth a listen! The guest on the 8th December 2019 episode is Professor Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford. For a man whose specialist knowledge is sleep and rest, he is fizzing with energy and a fascinating guest. He describes sleep as “the single most important health behaviour we have”.

So, while we are all full of good intentions at the start of the New Year, going to bed a little earlier may be one of the easier ones on your list to aim for. And if you haven’t had your flu jab yet and think we haven’t seen the worst of the winter …an interesting aside from the Prof was to have your flu jab in the morning as you produce more antibodies then so it will be more effective!

So take more exercise, eat well, moderate your drinking by all means but for a healthy 2020, find time for some more sleep!


The Art of Being A Good Leaver…….by Catriona Cookson

As all the news channels continue to be dominated by the Harry and Meghan scenario and everyone weighs in with their views it got me thinking about the whole topic of being a good leaver.

While their intentions may well be justified, and I do think the whole scenario is actually quite sad…. I can’t help thinking they have gone about it the wrong way. In too many years in recruitment , I’ve always encouraged people to leave on good terms from their current employer …to be a good leaver …because although you may not realise it now, your paths may cross again at some time in the future with your current colleagues and/or boss.

If it’s true that Harry and Meghan either didn’t tell the Queen or chose not to do as she asked …it really is the equivalent of boasting to your colleagues about your new job and organising your leaving drinks before you’ve told your boss ….never a good move! Even if you are at the stage where you really can’t stand the place any more, just bide your time. If for example you’re trying to negotiate your notice period, then do absolutely everything your boss asks re managing your news to your team / business.

Many of you may have started the New Year intent on moving on from your current role, and in the heady rush of excitement when you’re ready to go ……just remember “Always Be A Good Leaver”

Harry and Megan Waving

Should job adverts tell it how it really is? by Catriona Cookson

Whatever your views on Dominic Cummings, his recent advertisement for an assistant attracted a lot of attention. While clearly an unconventional advert and leaving to one side you can’t specify you are looking for candidates to be young and recently graduated (what do you meant you don’t want someone who lived through the last Gulf War and the Falklands crisis ?!?) …..dare I say it, I actually quite liked the advert.

It makes it very clear that work will dominate everything and tough luck if you you’ve got a class on Wednesdays or theatre tickets on Thursday …you won’t be going! And while the language is harsh “I’ll bin you within weeks if you don’t fit”… least you know where you stand!

And how will DC select this person …will he have to follow standard procedures or will he be allowed to adopt his own maverick approach? Will he use some kind of psychometric profiling or situational judgement questions used by the Civil Service or maybe some of the new interactive video games which some companies are now using?

Whatever your views, there’s no denying it’s a fascinating role…interesting to see who ultimately is selected …..and chooses to accept!


Culture Shock(ing) Rules – by Davey Peyton

As the UK heads towards another election it feels like everyone is just about ready for a bit of a change. That might be a new role, a new company or just a new way of getting things done.

In a recent article the Harvard Business Review looked at Ben Horowitz’s new book and his mention of ‘shocking rules’ that divert from the norm to create a sense of ritualistic identity.

From Amazon’s buying cheap doors to make their desks to the inclusivity of Genghis Khan there’s a wide range discussed here

How does your company stack up and what ‘shocking rules’ if any do you have? Do you love them or loath them and is there anything new you’d like to see?

It’s something we are hearing more about and why we enjoy really getting to know our clients as their culture is important to them and it’s more and more important to everyone we speak to.

So if you want help finding that shock drop us a message.

DCP Blog


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