UK aid spending on track to rise by £1bn in next parliament, says IFS

DFID budget set to rise despite cuts elsewhere in Whitehall under spending pledge


By Sebastian Whale

09 May 2017

Photo: PA

Britain’s overseas aid budget is set to rise by £1bn during the course of the next parliament, according to an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The think tank found that aid spending has nearly doubled in Britain between 2005 and 2016, from £7.4bn to £13.6bn, with it projected to rise by another £1bn by 2021 as parties pledge to stick to spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid.

Theresa May said last week that the Tories plan to stick to the commitment, which was made legally binding under the coalition government back in 2013. It came despite the prime minister facing calls from her backbenchers to scrap the pledge while cuts in spending are undertaken elsewhere.

In its report, the IFS said that the UK’s commitment to spending on overseas aid is “notable”, with non-ring-fenced departments seeing an average cut of £34.6bn between 2010-11 and 2016-17.

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The Department for International Development, which administers the majority of aid spending, meanwhile saw its budge rise by £2bn over the same period.

But the IFS said that in recent years less of overseas development assistance was being channelled through DFID, with a quarter of the budget being spent outside of the department in 2016.

The IFS said that there has been a “recent shift” in focus towards the “promotion of UK’s national interest” in its aid strategy.

Sonya Krutikova, an author of the IFS report, said: “The UK is now recognised internationally as leading on shaping the global development agenda and the Department for International Development scores highly on the international Aid Transparency Index.

“A change of strategy since 2015 means that more emphasis is now put on using ODA spending for the UK’s national interest. There is clearly a trade-off between this, spending outside of ODA altogether, and ensuring the money is used most effectively for global poverty alleviation.”

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