In this blog we timeline the communication of, and reactions to, the UK government’s aid cuts and pose the question, is this a new era of UK aid transparency?
Aid NGOs are calling for transparency around how the UK government is cutting its aid programmes. Publish What You Fund, Bond and Development Initiatives warn that decisions are being taken behind closed doors without proper scrutiny or consultation, arguing that this poses a serious threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
Our CEO Gary Forster caught up with Alex MacGillivray, Evaluations Director at CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) to discuss the latest research of the FGI Transparency Initiative on impact management. As part of our DFI Spotlight series, Alex shared his thoughts on the opportunities for more and better disclosure of impact data, where the DFI sector is on impact transparency and the change that’s needed.
The 2020 Aid Transparency Index reveals an improvement in overall transparency among the world’s major aid agencies, but there remains a gulf in the performance of the two UK donors included in the ranking. Released today by Publish What You Fund, the Index is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major aid donors. The research, undertaken before last week’s announcement of a merger, shows that while DFID remained in the ‘very good’ category as a global leader in aid transparency, the FCO ranked 38th out of 47 donors and failed to publish adequate information on the performance of its aid projects. As the shrinking UK economy puts aid under increasing financial pressure and resources are redirected to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, the Index results provide a timely reminder that we need to know that our aid is being spent in the most effective way to achieve the greatest impact.
Only three out of ten government departments have reached the level of transparency set out in its 2015 UK Aid Strategy. Our detailed review assessed ten government departments spending significant amounts of official development assistance (ODA) and found that they all now share some data on their aid and many have improved the regularity and quantity of information they make available through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). However, currently only the Department for International Development (DFID), the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy meet the aid transparency targets the government is due to meet by 2020.
Throughout 2019 we have been conducting a transparency review of 10 UK government departments and two cross-government funds. As these departments have come to understand the details of our methodology, learn about the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard and invest in the systems and processes to enable greater transparency, there has been a steady increase in the number of departments providing data, and the comprehensiveness of this data. Consequently there is now a lot more information freely available on UK aid spending which until as recently as August was simply not available. In a new blog, Elma Jenkins reflects on the newly available data, what it tells us about UK aid spending and the many questions it raises.