Some of the UK’s largest retailers have partnered with the government to help launch a fund designed to protect supply chains and support international workers.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has launched the £6.85m vulnerable supply chains facility in partnership with a host of high street retail names including Primark, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer

The government said the fund included “investment from UK businesses to keep vulnerable workers in their supply chains in safe and secure employment” and would also “ensure the steady supply of products like vegetables, coffee and clothes”. 

The fund is comprised of £4.85m in funding from DFID and a further £2m from partner businesses and will focus primarily on supply chains and workers in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana.

Partner retailers will work with charities and non-governmental organisations to “improve working conditions and support greater access to healthcare and health information for workers in some of the world’s poorest countries”, said DFID. 

M&S has also committed to working with international aid charity Care to “improve health services for 80,000 factory workers in Bangladesh who keep M&S stores stocked with clothes”.

The government said the scheme was particularly needed due to the ongoing disruption to international supply chains caused by the coronavirus crisis and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year.

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.”