The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has been criticised by an independent watchdog for failing to be transparent with its spending of the UK aid budget. A new report published this week reveals the sharp decline in standards – made worse by the FCDO merger in 2020 and successive cuts to the budget – has jeopardised the UK’s reputation as a global leader in development.
The report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), a public body that reports to parliament, looks at how the UK’s aid transparency practices have evolved since 2015. Minimal transparency around the recent UK aid budget reductions, the lack of information on UK aid spending priorities for individual countries, and the lack of a full FCDO departmental budget for 2022-23 are among the issues raised by ICAI. This has restricted the ability of Parliament and civil society to hold the government to account, the report states.
Abigael Baldoumas, policy manager for aid effectiveness at Bond, said in response:
“The government is in the grips of a UK aid transparency crisis. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has allowed transparency over the UK aid budget to plummet in recent years, which not only weakens its accountability to the British taxpayer and the communities we work with but hampers the support we provide to the world’s most marginalised people facing poverty, inequality, conflict, and climate change. It also puts the UK’s hard-earned reputation as a global partner at risk.
“The FCDO already has the tools to restore UK aid transparency and accountability. What is needed now is a demonstration of political will. The foreign secretary and minister for development should use this critical moment to rebuild the UK’s reputation in development. This starts with publishing a forward-looking budget and improving the clarity, consistency and content of UK aid spending.”
Notes to editor
- Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 425 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
- The new ICAI review can be found here. Their media contact is Gemma Roberts-Kinnear ([email protected]).
- For further information or interviews please contact Juliet Conway on 07990518334 or [email protected]