"The British Council's work is valued by its customers and stakeholders. It faces a difficult challenge in delivering a wide range of products and services in 110 countries worldwide. High performance in some areas such as performance measurement and customer satisfaction needs to expand across every strand of activity. Project and programme management need to be strengthened and customer relationship systems and service standards enhanced."
Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office
Notes for Editors
- The British Council exists to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the United Kingdom and other countries, and to increase appreciation of the UK’s creative ideas and achievements. It is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. In 2006/2007 it received £195 million of public money, mainly from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and earned a further £350 million principally by teaching English, delivering examinations overseas and managing client-funded contracts.
- This report arose from a request by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons that the National Audit Office examine the Value for Money of the British Council. A further report, on how the British Council manages its finances, estate, procurement, human resources, IT, and internal changes, is also published today on the NAO website.
- Public diplomacy is the process through which a country communicates with citizens in other societies. Effective public diplomacy starts from the premise that dialogue, rather than public relations, is central to improving understanding of and influence for the UK in line with the goals of foreign policy.
- Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at https://www.nao.org.uk/. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General, Tim Burr, is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 850 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources.