Effectiveness of UK aid: potential impact of FCO/DFID merger Contents


1.In March 2020, we launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of UK aid, in which we set out to assess how UK aid is spent, and whether that spending is sufficiently transparent, accountable and impactful. The inquiry aimed to contribute to the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

2.Since then, the development landscape has changed radically.

3.This report follows on from our interim findings, published on 9 June, in which we advocated strongly for the retention of a standalone DFID with a cabinet-level Secretary of State. We consider how UK aid, held up as an international exemplar, can continue to be as effective as possible following the merger, and draw upon evidence from mergers in other countries such as Australia and Canada. We also recommend steps that the Government should take to safeguard the quality of the UK’s development work.

4.First, we consider the process of the merger, including how to manage risks and lessons from other countries’ departmental reorganisations. Secondly, we assess how to maintain an effective and targeted UK aid policy, through keeping a focus upon poverty reduction and improving transparency. Finally, we explore and recommend future scrutiny arrangements.

5.To inform our work, we took evidence from a broad range of stakeholders both in the UK and internationally.1 Given the rapidly changing circumstances over the course of the inquiry, we have repositioned this final report to focus upon issues connected to the merger. For analysis and commentary on a broad range of topics relating to aid effectiveness, we highly recommend that readers visit our website to access the considered written contributions submitted to our inquiry from a wide range of contributors. We also suggest that the Government reads this evidence as a proxy for the consultation process that could have informed the Integrated Review. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the inquiry and helped to shape our work.

1 This included oral evidence in person (prior to the lockdown), virtual evidence sessions and exchanges of written questions and answers. We also received a substantial number of written submissions to the inquiry.

Published: 16 July 2020