Scotland referendum heaps questions over future of UK aid

By Anna Patton 15 September 2014

Scotland’s referendum on independence takes place Sept. 18. What could independence mean for U.K. development aid? Photo by: Lawrence OP / CC BY-NC-ND

After a bitterly fought campaign, voters in Scotland go to the polls Thursday to decide whether or not to break away from the United Kingdom.

Independence is now a genuine possibility — with at least one major opinion poll now showing the “Yes” camp edging into the lead.

Much uncertainty remains, though, over security arrangements, currency and European Union membership, all of which will certainly have knock-on effects far beyond Edinburgh.

In terms of international development, Scottish independence could have far-reaching implications for staff, contractors, partners and beneficiaries of the U.K. Department for International Development and other agencies handling funds from the world’s second-largest bilateral donor. The sector is also wondering what a brand-new donor like a future independent Scotland could bring to the table.

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About the author

Headshot anna patton
Anna Patton

Anna Patton is a freelance journalist and media facilitator specializing in global development and social enterprise. Currently based in London, she previously worked with development NGOs and EU/government institutions in Berlin, Brussels and Dar es Salaam as well as in the U.K., and has led media projects with grass-roots communities in Uganda and Kenya. Anna has an master’s degree in European studies — specializing in EU development policy — and is a fellow of the On Purpose social enterprise program.


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