UK aid commitments on track despite £155 million 'savings'

By agency reporter
April 22, 2009

Progressio, the Catholic international development and advocacy agency, today welcomed the UK government’s budget promise to meet existing aid commitments to the world’s poorest people in 2010-11. However, it expressed concern at “efficiency savings” totalling some £155 million planned for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the same period.

Tim Aldred, Progressio’s advocacy manager said: “In the current economic climate, we are relieved that development aid has not become the soft target it could have been and pleased that the government’s promises to the world’s poor are being upheld.”

The decisions, outlined in the chancellor's budget statement, will mean the UK is on course to deliver £9.1 billion in overseas aid next year - a rise in line with earlier commitments - and 0.7 percent of Gross National Income in development aid by 2013, seen as essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

DFID also said it was committed to spending £1 billion on education in 2010-11 and at least £3 billion in Africa by 2010.

However, financial constraints will also see DFID – the main government department which oversees the administration of overseas aid – spend £155 million less in several areas in 2010-11, compared to 2007 plans, DFID’s website said today. These include:

* International Division: £50 million: savings include “stronger cash management” from multilateral organisations funded by DFID.
* Policy and Research Division: £40 million savings include “developing strengthened partnerships on research and analytical work, and improved procurement and management of policy and research contracts.”
* Communications Division: £10 million savings include “more effective, focused central communications work and more efficient use of web and social media networks.”
* Contingency reserve: £55 million savings include “reducing the contingency reserve set aside to deal with unforeseen emergencies by 60 percent.”

“It is important that cuts in DFID’s budget next year do not prove to be a false economy by diminishing accountability or effectiveness of UK aid,” Tim Aldred added.

Of particular concern, Progressio notes, is the significant reduction in contingency funds for emergencies, which could affect DFID’s ability to make finance available quickly for larger emergencies.

Aldred concluded: “In recent years, the UK’s Department for International Development has developed a reputation not only for delivering aid but also for leading international development policy formulation. It is important that DFID continues to do this by maintaining investment in high quality expertise.”

Follow budget responses from church, development and green sources on Ekklesia:

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.