Thank you for contacting me about our aid budget.
Development spending is an important part of securing the UK’s place in the world. Aid has the power to end disease, hunger and extreme poverty, build strong economies and help the world’s most vulnerable people. It also helps us to influence and shape the world around us. Spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid contributes to the UK’s reputation as a development superpower and helps deliver a more secure and prosperous UK, while having a life-saving impact on the ground.
Whether it’s stepping up to support desperate Syrian refugees, leading the way in eradicating Ebola and malaria, or giving life-saving aid to stop people dying of hunger in East Africa, UK aid is keeping the UK safe while helping the world’s poorest stand on their own two feet.
I share your pride in the extraordinary work achieved by our aid budget, which is life-saving and life-changing for millions of the poorest people around the world. Between 2015 and 2019, the Department for International Development (DFID) supported 14 million children to gain a decent education and helped almost 52 million people get access to clean water and/or better sanitation. This great work will continue under the newly created Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The UK is also leading the global effort to save millions of girls from child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation, including the largest single investment to end FGM.
On the Spending Review taking place this year, I am not in a position to pre-empt the conclusions of the review. I understand, however, that Ministers are aware of the suggestions you raise.
I welcome the Government's commitment to transparency and robust scrutiny of Official Development Assistance expenditure. The structure and remit of select committees is a matter for the House and I have been reassured that the FCDO will reflect carefully on the recommendations of the International Development Committee and the Liaison Committee on this. I will ensure that ministers are aware of the points you have raised and will look forward to considering any motion that may come before the House.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be accountable to Parliament for how it spends UK aid. I have been assured that the Government remains committed to full transparency in our aid spending and there will continue to be parliamentary and independent scrutiny of the aid budget. For example, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has been told to prioritise producing tangible, evidence-based recommendations to ministers to drive effective overseas development spending. The Foreign Secretary has commissioned a review of the ICAI to make sure ICAI’s remit, focus and methods are effectively scrutinising the impact of UK aid spend, in line with the aims of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. I look forward to seeing the results of this review.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP