UK auditors raise concerns on aid spending rigour

18 Jul 17

The UK government needs to ensure all departments are supported to spend Office Development Assistance responsibly and effectively, national auditors said today.

In 2015, the UK government met the UN target to spend 0.7% of gross national income on ODA for the third year in a row.

Meanwhile, the government’s UK Aid Strategy means departments other than the Department for International Development are increasingly involved in managing the spend. A total of 14 departments and funds spent ODA in 2015.

A report from the National Audit Office found that, while the Treasury took an evidence-based approach to diverse departments handling ODA, it did not fully assess each department’s capacity to manage the increase in spending.

Auditors also noted that DFID supported others departments as their ODA budgets increase, providing advices on the eligibility of ODA expenditure and support to build project management capacity.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: “The government has decided that departments and cross-government funds other than DFID should have responsibility for expenditure which makes up the 0.7% aid target. This means that meeting the target has become a more complex undertaking and the resulting gaps in accountability and responsibility require more effort to manage.

“HM Treasury and DFID, together with other relevant bodies, should now focus on developing ways to demonstrate the overall effectiveness and coherence of ODA expenditure.”

The NAO had previously raised concerns that DFID was not managing the sharp rise in ODA, as the UK hit the 0.7% target although it reported today that the department’s management of the ODA budget had improved.

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