UK aid watchdog right to criticise ‘slapdash’ Foreign Office approach, campaigners say

UK aid watchdog right to criticise ‘slapdash’ Foreign Office approach, campaigners say

Date: 7 October 2022
Campaigns: Aid

Analysis of FCDO’s Prosperity Fund backs up criticisms of ‘clear as mud’ UK aid spending

Today, the UK aid watchdog ICAI (Independent Commission for Aid Impact) has published its rapid review into ‘Transparency in UK aid’.(1)

The review highlights how the transfer of oversight of UK aid from the former Department for International Development (DfID) to the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has undermined the accountability of UK aid.

Failures to ensure proper oversight of FCDO spending, the report states, have “hindered the ability of Parliament and civil society to scrutinise spending” and risk “sending the wrong signals to partners and the UK public on the UK’s continuing commitment to transparency”.

It follows a report by Global Justice Now in June criticising the Prosperity Fund, a Foreign Office-managed aid project, for a lack of transparency and failure to deliver on poverty reduction goals.(2)

Daniel Willis, finance campaigner at Global Justice Now, said:

“When faced with constant attacks and cuts, UK aid spending must be as effective and transparent as possible, yet today’s report shows it is currently as clear as mud. How can parliament and civil society ensure aid is going where it’s needed most without basic transparency?

“ICAI’s rapid review corroborates the findings from our own research which highlights the Foreign Office’s slapdash approach to the transparency and accountability of UK aid.

“Unfortunately this is part of a longer trend in which aid is increasingly being spent in pursuit of commercial aims or given to unaccountable private sector contractors, with little to no evidence provided of how this is meant to help reduce poverty.”

The ICAI review goes on to state:

“Since the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in September 2020, the UK’s commitment to aid transparency has come into question. There was very little transparency around the aid budget reductions implemented in 2020 and 2021. There has been no publication of UK spending priorities in individual countries, and a full departmental budget for 2022- 23 has not yet been published”.




2. Warning signs: The Prosperity Fund and the hijacking of UK aid, Global Justice Now, June 2022,

Photo: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (CC BY 2.0)