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Is the UK really still an aid superpower? IDC questions the Independent Commission for Aid Impact

12 January 2024

In September, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) published its Synthesis Review Report, pulling together findings of its reviews of how the UK aid programme has performed since August 2019 and covering the period since the FCDO merger in 2020 and the 2021 reduction in the UK’s aid spending target from 0.7% to around 0.5% of GNI. In 2020, the UK had been one of only seven countries in the world reporting it had met the 0.7% target.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Foreign Secretary David Cameron insisted that the UK was “still an aid superpower”, despite the reduction in UK aid spend and the move away from the 0.7% target enshrined in law when he was Prime Minister.

On Tuesday 9 January at 2:30pm:

  • Dr Tamsyn Barton, Chief Commissioner at Independent Commission for Aid Impact
  • Ekpe Attah, Head of Secretariat, ICAI

Commenting on the ICAI report in September, IDC Chair Sarah Champion said:

“This independent review underlines what has become sadly apparent over the last 4 years: the FCO DFID merger was a bad move, at a bad time, that has brought few detectable gains. Coming alongside ongoing cuts to the UK aid budget, it has broadly undermined the UK’s international standing and the impact of UK aid spending.

“The Government’s mean-spirited use of our reduced ODA budget on a dysfunctional asylum system in the UK has spectacularly backfired, and by the FCDO’s own assessment its budget cuts are disproportionately hitting women, girls and disabled people - people who are already the poorest and most marginalised in the world.

“The UK previously led the way with a commitment to ODA funding and policy that could begin to address the great sustainability challenges of our time. The risk now is that we are reduced to achieving short-term, transactional goals; facilitating diplomatic access. It’s time to begin to unpick this and return UK ODA spending to where it can make the most positive difference.”

This evidence session will explore ICAI’s 4-year findings and also look at its wider work as it approaches the end of the current commission.

Further information

Image: Crown Copyright