The UK Government has launched a new programme to help high street businesses, including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op and Waitrose, to strengthen their global supply chains by supporting workers in developing countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new funding announced by International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan includes investment from UK businesses to keep vulnerable workers in their supply chains in safe and secure employment.
The UK imports 20% of its food and drink from developing countries. The coronavirus pandemic has put many of these supply chains at risk as factories and farms worldwide have been forced to close temporarily. The new Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility will help to ensure the steady supply of products like vegetables, coffee and clothes to the UK high street.
The UK aid fund will partner up UK businesses including Morrisons, Tesco and Marks & Spencer with expert organisations such as CARE UK, the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical Trading Initiative to improve working conditions and support greater access to healthcare and health information for workers in some of the world’s poorest countries. This will help make workplaces safer, meaning employees can return to work and supply chains can keep moving and become more resilient.
Disruptions to flights during the pandemic have affected UK imports of flowers from Kenya. The new scheme will help suppliers to ship flowers to the UK instead, protecting the livelihoods of farmers in Kenya and helping keep British florists stocked.
International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: "We want to ensure people in Britain can continue to buy affordable, high quality goods from around the world.
"This new fund will strengthen vital supply chains for UK consumers, while supporting some of the most vulnerable workers in developing countries. It will make a real difference to people in the UK and abroad."
The new facility will fund programmes to improve coronavirus preparedness in workplaces, help farmers diversify the crops they produce to meet demand, and provide support so farms and factories can put processes in place to keep production going and make sure help is getting to the most vulnerable workers.