FCDO to focus on delivering UK aid to prioritize overseas development spending

LONDON, Aug 29 (APP): Taxpayers will see more value from aid spending following reforms to the independent body that scrutinizes UK aid, the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on August 29.

A UK statement of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued  here today said, following the merger of the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) will be told to prioritize producing tangible, evidence-based recommendations to ministers to drive effective overseas development spending.

According to a statement Dominic Raab has commissioned a review of ICAI to begin this autumn, almost ten years after the body was first established. The review will make sure ICAI’s remit, focus and methods were effectively scrutinizing the impact of UK aid spend, in line with the aims of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which will be launched on September 2 (Wednesday).

The merger of the UK’s diplomacy and development offices was announced in June as an opportunity for the UK to have even greater impact and influence on the world stage as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and prepare to hold the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year,the UK statement said.

The statement further said that The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to giving UK aid new prominence within our international policy under the new department.

Following the merger, the Foreign Secretary will be empowered to make decisions
on aid spending in line with the UK’s priorities overseas, harnessing the skills,
expertise and evidence that have earned our reputation as a leader in the international development community,it added.

The Foreign Secretary said he wanted that ICAI to become “a committee for what works” in development. The FCDO would use the rigorous evaluation conducted by ICAI to determine how UK aid could be better spent, based on what “the evidence shows is most effective for tackling poverty and global challenges like diseases, climate changes and humanitarian disasters”.

The review would also look at how ministers can engage more with ICAI, to make sure the watchdog’s independent recommendations lead to better decision-making and significant, lasting change at every level  of the new department,the statement said.

It further said that ICAI’s remit would continue to include UK aid spent by other government departments, such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department of Health and Social Care. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

“We are integrating our aid budget with our diplomatic clout in the new FCDO to maximize the impact of our foreign policy”. “That’s why I want to reinforce the role of ICAI, to strengthen further transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayers’ money and relentlessly focus our Global Britain strategy on policies and in areas that deliver the most value.”,Mr.Raab remarked.

The review, expected to start later in September, will be carried out by senior FCDO officials in consultation with ICAI, alongside independent external experts. It will also take into account the outcomes of the Integrated Review, which was currently looking at the UK’s foreign, defence, security and international development policy. The findings of the ICAI review are expected to be published at the end of 2020.

The ICAI was established in 2011 to provide additional assurance to the UK taxpayer that UK aid is being spent well, has an impact globally and provides value for money. The watchdog supports Parliament in holding the UK Government to account on its aid spending.

Previous ICAI reports have led to improvements in the ways UK aid was spent and monitored. It has, for example, it has led to more robust collecting and reporting of results  for DFID’s maternal health programmes. It also led to DFID providing greater support to other government departments that spend aid,the statement said.

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