The Quality of UK Aid Spending, 2011–2018: An Analysis of Evaluations by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact

This paper analyses the grades awarded in the 65 primary reviews undertaken by the UK Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) over its first eight years of operation, from 2011 to 2018. ICAI’s mandate is to provide independent evaluation and scrutiny of the impact and value for money of all UK aid. So far, there has been no summary of ICAI’s gradings or reviews. This paper calculates the aid spending covered by ICAI reviews and how it is graded and summarises by the government department responsible.

It finds that ICAI has directly evaluated £28bn of UK aid over the period. Around four-fifths of spend assessed was graded as “satisfactory” (amber/green) or “strong” (green). Most reviews relate to spend by the Department for International Development. In other departments, there have been relatively few graded reviews. Reviews covering DFID’s aid spend have covered around a third of its aid spending and graded four-fifths as satisfactory or better. Reviews covering the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s aid spend have covered a quarter of its aid spend, and the subset that are graded show four fifths of the spend was assessed as “unsatisfactory.” 

The findings from ICAI reviews, and this report, should inform the UK Government’s aid allocations between departments at the forthcoming spending review. 

The data for this paper is available for download here.

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