ICAI criticises UK aid transparency and accountability in new report – Bond, the UK network of NGOs, reacts
The UK government has been criticised by an independent watchdog for its “inadequate” accountability and transparency of UK aid following the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) merger two years ago.
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a follow-up review of its 12 reports in 2020-21, which set out recommendations to improve value for money of UK aid. It rates the government’s response to four out of seven reviews as “inadequate” with progress continuing to be affected by “institutional, strategic and budget uncertainties.”
It also reports a deterioration in the transparency of UK aid spending in FCDO, with documentation no longer systematically available to public scrutiny and the evidence provided to ICAI on request varying in its comprehensiveness.
Abigael Baldoumas, policy manager for aid effectiveness at Bond, said in response to the new review:
“It’s encouraging that the government has made some progress in responding to previous years’ recommendations, but efforts are still falling worryingly short.
“From the day the FCDO merger was announced, we were very concerned about the impact it would have on the department’s ability to deliver quality UK aid that meets the needs of people facing poverty, conflict, and climate change in a transparent and evidence-based way.
“Unfortunately, this report confirms our fears that transparency and accountability of UK aid – funded by British taxpayers’ money – is seriously lacking. It also highlights how the merger and huge reductions in the UK aid budget continue to undermine the UK’s role in tackling global crises.
“We urge the government to instate a dedicated minister for international development, with a seat in the Cabinet, to deliver on the promises made to marginalised communities around the world and ensure that the department’s capacity is rebuilt.”