Target aid solely on world’s poor, say UK politicians

5 Jun 18

UK official development assistance should be more focused on ing the world’s poorest people, MPs have urged today.

A report by the International Development Committee warned that some cross-government spending marked as ODA did not have a clear poverty reduction target, and that this undermines UK aid.

Stephen Twigg, chair of the committee, said: “It is essential that the UK’s spending on aid underpins the reduction of poverty.”

The government has committed to spending more ODA outside the Department for International Development, but there is a lack of transparency about how money is spent, the report said.

Ministers must ensure that ODA, delivered both by DfID and other departments, meet the same “consistently high standard” of poverty reduction, it said.

“The role of cross-government funds has become increasingly prominent but the current arrangements for oversight leave gaps and the opportunity for a lack of coherence,” Twigg said.

“Our report raises concerns that some activities are being badged as ODA without a clear focus on poverty reduction. This lack of clarity risks undermining faith in UK aid.”

The report says DfID, ranked fourth amongst all global development agencies in the International Aid Transparency Index, should take the lead in promoting excellence across Whitehall.

Its “world-leading position must not be jeopardised” by other departments using ODA for the wrong reasons, the MPs said.

The UK enshrined a target of 0.7% of its gross national income to be spent on ODA – a figure recommended by the United Nations – into law in 2015.

The legislation states that all ODA spending, including that not delivered by DfID, should have the goal of ending extreme poverty.

Twigg said: “We call on government to set out individual departmental responsibilities for delivering, overseeing, monitoring and coordinating ODA and how they correspond to the aims of the UK’s 2015 aid strategy.

“Ultimately, DfID’s experience in administering ODA means it should sign off on all of the UK’s ODA, tightening up practice in other departments, developing capacity and receiving adequate resources to do so.”

The government has considered tightening the international definition of aid, but the committee does not believe there should be any changes.

Twigg said: “The current definition does not preclude the UK from providing humanitarian assistance when it is needed.

“Attempts to manipulate the definition risk damaging the UK’s reputation for expertise and professionalism in aid delivery.”

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