Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

ICAI grades for spending directly evaluated (Depts reviewed and >1% UK aid)

How Effective Is UK Aid? Assessing the Last 8 Years of Spending

In our new policy paper, we take advantage of the fact that the impact of UK aid is independently assessed by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Looking back over 8 years and 65 graded assessments, even with a focus on riskier projects, we find that almost 80 percent of UK aid assessed was well spent. With a spending review on the horizon, HM Treasury will be looking closely at departmental performance and should use ICAI’s findings to shape their allocations. 

Africa CEO Forum

UK Aid Watchdog to CDC: Time to be More Accountable, More Transparent on Development Finance

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) issued a report this week on the performance of CDC–the UK’s development finance institution–in low-income and fragile states. ICAI gives CDC an Amber/Red rating on its performance, which means “unsatisfactory achievement in most areas, with some positive elements.” In particular, the commission says that CDC has not done enough to monitor its performance. 

R&D ODA by UK, compared to other DAC donors ($ millions)

ODA for Research & Development: Too Much of a Good Thing?

If you line up all countries ranked by their ODA spending on research and development (R&D) in 2017, the UK has spent more than the next 15 combined. This has the potential to generate new technology and ideas that accelerate the increase in living standards we are witnessing across the globe. But for it to fulfil this potential, there are a series of questions that should be considered concerning its allocation.

timeline of UK departments for development

Should the UK’s Development Department be Merged with Foreign Affairs and Trade?

Rumours have re-surfaced—perhaps as a result of Treasury kite-flying—that  the Government is considering merging its international-facing Departments as part of the coming spending review. We’ve argued in the past that the best approach to development policy is through an integrated approach to aid, trade and foreign policy. But merging DFID into the FCO at this time would be likely to diminish the UK’s global influence, damage its development effectiveness, and work against the idea of Global Britain.

2018 Aid Transparency Index

UK Aid: Which Departments are Missing Their Transparency Target?

The UK’s 2015 National Aid Strategy committed all departments to be “Very Good” or “Good” on Publish What You Fund’s Aid Transparency Index (“the Index”). We look at a leading indicator of transparency and conclude that, beyond DFID, progress has been almost non-existent. With a spending review to set budgets to 2022 expected next year, departments should take the last chance to step-up their performance and HM Treasury should not renew their spending if they don’t.

UK aid supplies on pallets

How Should UK Development Finance Count as Aid?

The UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt spoke powerfully last week about the opportunities for expanding investment in developing countries, including through CDC, the UK’s development finance institution. But a new proposal to count the reinvestment of returns on development finance towards the aid target would contradict the principle underpinning the rules on measuring aid, reduce the UK’s aid effort, and create volatility for other aid (and HM Treasury).

MAC report

Why Is Development Missing from the Migration Advisory Committee Report?

Last week’s report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)—an independent body commissioned by the Home Office—included some good suggestions for the UK government, such as removing the cap on high-skilled immigration. However, the committee also made the rather extreme, and we think ill-advised, recommendation that there should be no legal work-based route for so called “low-skilled” immigration, which would shut the door on people without a job offer worth £30,000. 

20-pound notes

What Advice Would You Give to Penny Mordaunt on Combating Illicit Financial Flows?

London is one of the world’s premier destinations for kleptocrats and corrupt oligarchs seeking to launder ill-gotten gains into property, investments, private school fees and influence. There is no reliable estimate of the total value of laundered funds that impacts on the UK. However the National Assessment of Serious Organised Crime says there is “a realistic possibility the scale of money laundering impacting the UK annually is in the hundreds of billions of pounds” (this includes both domestic and international sources). 

What I Want to Hear from the UK Development Secretary: How to Improve Whole-of-Government Aid Spending

Successive governments have long felt that UK Department for International Development (DFID) needs to work better with the rest of Whitehall. There have been efforts to join up better in government, sometimes successfully, but there remains a feeling in Whitehall that DFID is too tribal, too protective of its budget, and unwilling to roll up its sleeves to contribute to the government’s wider priorities including security, economic opportunities, and influence.

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