Skip to main content

Poverty reduction must remain top priority for UK aid

22 March 2016

The International Development Committee publishes report urging the Government to maintain focus on poverty reduction.

In November 2015, the Government released a new UK aid strategy called UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest, alongside the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), with an increased focus on how international development benefits the national interest.

The strategy contains an increased focus on 'fragile' states and regions and encourages greater spending of Official Development Assistance (ODA) by other government departments.

However, in a list of the strategy's four priorities, poverty reduction is listed in fourth place.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"The new UK aid strategy shines a welcome light on the world's fragile states and regions. It shows the Government's willingness to work in difficult areas where levels of extreme poverty are high.

However, the new strategy risks creating an impression that poverty reduction is no longer the top priority. The most important principle of allocating UK aid should always be that it is allocated to areas where it can most effectively be used to reduce poverty, which is clearly in the UK's national interest.

The Committee is also concerned about the definition of 'fragile state'. We need to understand how this term is being defined and how it will inform decisions about who should receive development assistance.

The UK has worked hard to establish a reputation for transparency and accountability in this area. With the increasing involvement of other Government departments, DFID needs to have an oversight of all ODA spending in order to ensure aid continues to be spent effectively.

Finally, where other government departments become involved in UK aid, they need to stand up for the world's poorest people. Tackling extreme poverty and helping the world's most vulnerable must remain unequivocally the first priority of UK aid spending."

Further information

Image: DFID