1.The last year has seen several important developments which affect the UK aid budget. The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”) requires the UK to spend at least 0.7% of gross national income on official development assistance (ODA). The Spending Review 2015 set departmental settlements for the next five years, including a commitment to have more aid administered by government departments other than the Department for International Development (DFID). 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.
2.DFID is currently running its first round of major reviews since the 2015 Act came into force. This includes the Bilateral Aid Review (BAR) and the Multilateral Aid Review (MAR), which will inform how DFID allocates its resources through bilateral and multilateral channels respectively, as well as the Civil Society Partnership Review (CSPR), which looks at the structure and conduct of DFID’s civil society partnerships.
3.In the midst of these announcements, and in order to feed into the BAR and MAR, we held an oral evidence session with Mark Lowcock, Permanent Secretary of DFID, on 8 December 2015. That session was informed by memoranda from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) and the National Audit Office (NAO), on the ODA allocation process and trends in UK ODA respectively, for which we are grateful.
4.We decided to hold a full inquiry arising out of the issues raised during that evidence session. We called for written evidence, looking more broadly at DFID’s allocation of resources and the new UK aid strategy, but specifically looking at the following issues:
5.We are currently awaiting the results of the Bilateral Aid Review (BAR) and the Multilateral Aid Review (MAR), after which we intend to take further oral evidence on issues arising from those reviews and publish a final report. However, we think that there are some important issues which cannot wait until then. There are considerations, in light of the new UK aid strategy, which we feel need to be built into the Government’s approach to international development as soon as possible. We have therefore decided to publish this interim report dealing with these high-level strategic issues.
1 HM Treasury, Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, , November 2015, p 29
2 HM Treasury, UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest, , November 2015
Prepared 17 March 2016