Nearly 30% of UK aid budget spent on refugees in the UK in 2022

Today, Thursday 14 September, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) published its statistics report on how UK aid was spent in 2022.


This annual publication provides an overview of the UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending in the calendar year 2022 and has revealed that the UK is spending more UK aid in the UK on refugee costs while development and humanitarian assistance in the lowest-income countries decreases. The statistics reveal:

UK aid to lower-income countries has hit the lowest levels since 2016* while spending by the Home Office on refugees in the UK has doubled since 2021.
In 2022, the largest proportion of bilateral ODA was spent on refugees in the UK, with 28.8% (£3.7bn) of ODA going on this.
The share going to lowest income countries continues to fall. Of all bilateral ODA (across all departments), just 51% went to the lowest-income countries in 2022. This is a fall of 13% compared to 2021 and of 47.8% compared to 2020.
The FCDO received just 59.7% of ODA allocations, the lowest share of the primary ODA spending department since these statistics began. Conversely, the share going to Home Office doubled from 2021, now receiving 18.7% of total ODA, a total of £2.4bn. (In 2020 it received just 4.1%, and in 2021 9.1% of total ODA.)
The share allocated to Africa fell below 50% for the first time since these stats began. Just 42% (£1.2bn) of bilateral ODA went to Africa, a cut of 52% since 2020. Sudan received 68.45% less than in 2021, a reduction of £64.5m
The amount allocated to Europe increased by 194% between 2021 and 2022, due to the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Ukraine experiencing the largest increase in country-specific bilateral ODA.
Total spending of ODA was 0.51% of GNI in 2022. This is the first time it’s gone over the GNI ratio ceiling since the 0.7% target was enshrined in UK legislation. The announcement of an extra £2.5 billion in the autumn budget in 2022 (pg. 29, point 2.54) to “help meet the significant and unanticipated cost” placed on the UK aid budget by its spending on refugees pushed this over to 0.51%.

In reaction to today’s statistics, Gideon Rabinowitz, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Bond, the UK network for NGOs, said:


“The government has lost its grip on the UK aid budget due to the uncontrolled spending by the Home Office on costs associated with refugees in the UK. This has undoubtedly weakened the UK’s ability to effectively respond to urgent global crises and challenges, such as climate change or the looming famine in East Africa.


Refugees and asylum-seekers urgently need sufficient support, but it needs to be better managed and should not be provided at the expense of millions of people facing conflict, climate change and poverty globally. Taking a robbing ‘Peter to pay Paul’ approach to UK aid is both wrong, and unnecessary, and ultimately it harms the UK’s reputation as a globally responsible partner.”