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Statement from Secretary of State James Cleverly – FCDO Update

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly released a written statement on 22 November confirming 0.5 per cent ODA spending for next 2 financial years.

He also confirmed that multilateral commitments will be met and that the current freeze on aid spending will be lifted but other details are stark.  

As Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the International Development Committee in the House of Commons has stated:

“This statement fails to address the most important issues, the devastation the world’s poorest people face .. will be profound”.  

She also notes that funding support for refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan should not be financed from the ODA budget.

You can read the full statement here, or text copied below for ease:

“As set out in the Autumn Statement 2022, reflecting the significant shock to the economy and public finances, the independent OBR’s forecasts show that the principles for a return to spending 0.7% GNI on Official Development Assistance (ODA) confirmed by Parliament in 2021 have not been met. Consequently, HMG will continue to spend around 0.5% of GNI on ODA until the principles for a return are met.

Recognising the significant and unanticipated costs incurred to support the people of Ukraine and Afghanistan escape oppression and conflict and find refuge in the UK, the government is providing additional resources of £1 billion in 2022-23 and £1.5 billion in 2023-24.

FCDO’s latest estimate of its planned ODA spending for this Financial Year, 2022-23, is £7,584m. FCDO will also plan on the assumption of a similar FCDO ODA budget for next year, 2023-24, to aid financial and operational planning, though this remains indicative. This is in the context of the support we are providing to those fleeing the war in Ukraine and insecurity in Afghanistan.

We will need to decide on the distribution of planned ODA allocations over the remainder of the Spending Review. I want to update the House on how we will do this.

First, I have instructed officials to focus spend according to the priorities set out in the International Development Strategy while maximising value for money and our flexibility to respond to new or emerging priority issues.

Second, we will meet the financial commitments we have made to multilateral organisations. They will remain essential partners in achieving our goals. We will work with them on the profile of these commitments to get the balance right with our bilateral programme spending.

Third, we are now able to lift the pause on ODA spending and activity and will act swiftly to manage our bilateral programmes this financial year. We will approach this in a proportionate way, with experts on the ground in country empowered to determine which programmes to continue in line with our approach to prioritisation.

We are committed to being more transparent about our ODA spend. The FCDO can only meet our development aims when we work closely with our delivery partners, when we listen to, and engage with people in developing countries, and when we explain to the British public how every penny spent helps improve lives around the world and is in our national interest.

In order to maximise value for money of ODA across Government and deliver greater reliability to our partners, we will strengthen ODA governance arrangements, ensuring that the Minister for International Development and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury can more effectively scrutinise ODA spend.

The UK will remain a world leader in development, not just through the impact of our ODA spend but also through our business, trade, civil society, research and technology expertise. For example, new vaccines, nutrition enhanced and drought resistant crops have been developed by the best brains in UK science and universities collaborating globally. This is one of the many ways the UK is partnering with countries to take control of their own future.”

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