Photo outside the houses of Parliament of people standing around, placards that say "Migrants and refugees welcome here" and a handwritten cardboard sign leaning against a bush that says "Refugees welcome"
Placards from the 'Stop the Bill: Refugees Welcome' demonstration at Parliament Square. Credit: Ruthie Walters / 2023

“UK government failing in its moral responsibility to support both UK refugees and asylum-seekers and people facing inequality globally”- Bond responds to ICAI review of UK aid to refugees in the UK 

Today, Wednesday 29 March, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has released its rapid review of UK aid to refugees in the UK.

The review examines the quality and value for money of UK aid to refugees in the UK, following up work done by other scrutiny bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. It also examines the impact of in-donor refugee costs on the overall UK aid programme.  

ICAI found the ability of government departments, particularly, the Home Office, to spend an unlimited proportion of the UK aid budget on the first-year costs of asylum seekers and refugees undermines incentives for longer term planning to reduce costs, risking poor value for money. The review makes six recommendations including on how to minimise the resulting disruption to programmes around the world and avoid damaging the UK’s aid objectives and reputation, as well as introducing a cap on the proportion of the UK aid budget that can be spent on in-donor refugee costs. 

In reaction to the review, Sandra Martinsone, Co-Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research at Bond, said:  

The UK government is failing in its moral and legal responsibilities to support both UK refugees and asylum-seekers and people facing conflict, climate change and inequality globally. Refugees and asylum-seekers urgently need sufficient financial support, but that should not come from UK aid which has already been cut and is intended to reduce the root causes of poverty and inequality and respond to humanitarian crises around the world. The government doesn’t need to do this, it’s a political choice.


 Notes for editors 

  1. Following cuts to the UK aid budget in 2021, UK aid spent domestically has increased from 2.9% in 2013 to 16.6% in 2021, with projections that more than £4bn of the UK aid budget was spent domestically in 2022. In November 2022, Bond found that the UK government was spending more UK aid on refugee costs in the UK than on health, humanitarian assistance, education or water and sanitation.  
  2. The UK is the only G7 state to count most of its in-country spending on support for Ukrainian refugees as UK aid.  
  3. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice. 
  4. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact works to improve the quality of UK development assistance through robust, independent scrutiny.
  5. For further information or interviews please contact Jess Salter at [email protected]