The landscape for the UK’s international development activity has seen considerable change over the last 18 months. The government has outlined seven global challenges around which aid spending would be focused. It has also chosen to focus on those countries ‘where the UK’s development, security and economic interests align’. The response to these challenges will be delivered primarily by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), formed from the merger of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Department. At the same time, the government has been responding to COVID‑19, domestically and internationally.
Alongside these changes the government decided to reduce the target for Official Development Assistance (ODA) – aid spending – from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income (GNI). It has set an ODA budget for 2021‑22 which represents 0.5% of GNI – around £10 billion, a third less than the £15.2 billion it spent in 2019 (pre‑pandemic).
This study will examine whether the FCDO and other government departments protected value for money in managing reductions in ODA spending. It will look at their strategies and plans for reducing spending, their implementation of the reductions in spending, and their management of the impact of the reductions. This work builds on our previous examinations of ODA spending, the most recent of which can be found here.