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Government admits decision to merge FCO and DFID was taken without prior consultation with stakeholders

2 October 2020

The International Development Committee (IDC) has today published the Government’s response to its Effectiveness of UK Aid reports.

In its reply, the Government admits that it announced the merger of the FCO and DFID prior to engaging with external partners. It also explained that the necessary processes are ongoing to transfer responsibilities under International Development legislation to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The IDC welcomes the indications of continued adherence to spending 0.7% GNI as Official Development Assistance (ODA) and commitments to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Government explains that further information around future ODA spend will be announced at the upcoming Spending Review.

In response to the Committee’s concerns about the impacts of similar mergers around the world, including costs, the Government states that saving money was not the primary focus but there could be longer term cost efficiencies.

However, the Government’s reply fails to address key issues such as focussing on multi-year, locally-led programmes and lifesaving projects – all aspects that DFID championed. The Government also ignores the Committee’s recommendation that UK aid be focused on the poorest people in the poorest countries.

Chair's comments

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“It is astonishing that the Government has admitted that there was no prior consultation to the biggest change in development policy since DFID was established in 1997. Stakeholders and external partners contribute to the UK’s development superpower status, and the Government must not compromise the future success of development by alienating them.

“Spending 0.7% of GNI on development is lifechanging for the world’s poorest. Over the coming weeks and months my Committee will continue making the case that this spending commitment must be maintained, and must be targeted towards the world’s poorest.

“This is why continuing to have a Committee scrutinising international development is so important. The money must be going to the right people for the right reasons. The Government has said in its response that it will ensure value for money for UK taxpayers, but it cannot mark its own homework and close parliamentary scrutiny is needed.”

The IDC will be monitoring the shape that development takes in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and will strive to continue its scrutiny in this area. The IDC proposes a new Committee with wider remit to scrutinise aid spend across all Government departments.  

 

Further information

Image: Crown Copyright