Parties urged to keep UK aid transparent and effective
Two organisations working to promote aid transparency, accountability and effectiveness welcome the continued cross-party consensus to protect the aid budget and spend aid in the most effective way.
The One Campaign and Publish What You Fund recognise that the United Kingdom is already a leader in this.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is one of the most transparent donors in the world, coming fourth in the 2016 Aid Transparency Index. DFID is also an effective donor, coming third in this assessment by the Center for Global Development in 2016.
However, there is no room for complacency. Nearly a billion people still live in absolute poverty, and there are more refugees now than at any time since 1945. Aid is doing more difficult things, in more difficult places, than ever before. To spend it effectively, we urge all party leaders to commit to:
- Retain DFID as an independent department, with a seat at the cabinet table. Being dedicated to development requires a dedicated development ministry, with a renewed mandate to fight poverty, respond to humanitarian emergencies and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Commit all government departments to publish what they fund. The UK government has championed openness on the global stage, but hasn’t always lived up to those high standards at home. The government committed that all departments spending aid would be fully transparent by 2020: it needs to deliver.
- Use British influence, and British soft power, to stand up for open governments and institutions worldwide. The UK has helped promote transparency and fight corruption through the Open Government Partnership, the United Nations and other global systems. It should continue to do so.
- Broaden and deepen openness at home, especially on the quarter-trillion pound public procurement market. The government should use open contracting to improve tracking and accountability of all government spending – including development aid – and make it easier for small businesses to compete for government business in this area.
- Keep the promise made at the Anti-Corruption Summit 2016 for companies to disclose who owns and profits from them. The UK government is a leader on public disclosure of beneficial ownership data for companies. It should continue to be a champion globally, including across its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, with a view to expanding this to include public disclosure for trusts as well.