Government is avoiding scrutiny
Aid charities are being excluded from spending decisions by the UK government, a report warns.
Bond, the body which represents the international aid sector, said the government was deliberately avoiding scrutiny over how the aid budget is spent.
This means deliberately freezing out aid groups from vital talks with most decisions happening behind closed doors.
Last year the government caused outrage after it announced plans to cut aid spending from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%, and also abolished the Department for International Development, moving aid policy and spending decisions to an expanded Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Bond has worked with transparency campaign group Publish What You Fund and data organisation Development Initiatives, to analyse how the UK government is performing with international aid.
Gary Forster, the chief executive of Publish What You Fund, said: “With the potential cut in UK aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income on the horizon, and given that the UK has consistently been such a global leader in aid transparency, it’s truly shocking how the cuts last year unfolded and how little we know about what’s happening this year.
“Our approach to measuring and monitoring transparency assumes some minimum level of government engagement with their stakeholders on major policy and operational changes – this time around we’re not seeing that happen.”
Abigael Baldoumas, policy and advocacy manager at Bond, said: “Decisions have been and are being made without proper scrutiny, transparency or consultation with NGOs.
“With the government intending to cut the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income, despite Covid-19 continuing to push millions of people back into poverty, it is shocking both how little information is available about where these cuts will land and how much NGOs on the frontline have been excluded from decision making.
“The government needs to be transparent about how cuts will affect programmes such as girls' education, strengthening health systems to deal with future pandemics, peacebuilding and humanitarian work.
“Transparency is a precursor to making aid effective, as well as being accountable to the British taxpayer, and to ensure not a penny of public money goes to anything other than helping those who most need it.”