DFID in the News
The facts behind media stories about UK aid and DFID’s work.
Pakistan Cash Transfers – 14 August 2017
Today (14 August 2017) the Daily Mail has reported on House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s decision to give the Speaker’s Democracy Award to Pakistani MP Marvi Memon for her work on the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), a scheme partially funded by DFID.
The article compares the scheme to ‘exporting the dole’, which is simply misleading – this scheme enables some of the poorest families in the world to access essentials like food, clothes and medicine, and DFID’s contribution to the scheme makes up just 7% of the overall costs.
Key results from the programme include:
- a reduction in malnutrition in girls; and
- a 10% increase in children enrolling in school, which means children are getting an education
Research by the Overseas Development Institute found cash transfers didn’t disincentive people from working, and have a significant impact on reducing poverty.
The Daily Mail article criticises the scheme over allegations of fraud but fails to mention security improvements such as the use of biometric technology that makes this one of the most secure payment systems for cash transfers in the world.
BISP is a performance by results programme, which means payments are made only after performance against pre-agreed targets is achieved.
The article references the Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s (ICAI) report on cash transfers, but drawing on one particular criticism in what were otherwise largely positive findings.
The story claims that that a quarter of recipients are not the country’s poorest, but what this means in reality is that these recipients were living on 90 pence or less per day whilst the rest were living on less than 75 pence per day.
It is wrong to suggest that these cash transfers are failing to reach the poorest people.
The story also fails to mention that ICAI has recommended that DFID should scale up the use of cash transfers given their effectiveness, and other independent reports have repeatedly recognised the success of these programmes.
A DFID spokesperson said:
60 million people have less than £1 a day to live on in Pakistan – this money allows families to buy the basics they need such as food, medicine and clothing.
UK support to Kenya – 30 July 2017
Today (30 July 2017), the Mail on Sunday has reported that the UK is giving £30 million in aid to fund a general election in Kenya. This is incorrect – the UK government works through international partners to support election management, legal reforms and efforts to resolve disputes and reduce violence in Kenya. The article also claims that the UK will contribute a further £2.5 million this year. This is also incorrect – DFID has not provided any new support in 2017 to help ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in Kenya.
As our support to Kenya is a UK government initiative and this is an issue which affects a number of departments, a joint statement was issued to the Mail on Sunday:
A UK government spokesperson said:
The UK government supports free, fair and peaceful elections in Kenya, to help to maintain security and stability, which is in all our interests. Election support was allocated in 2015 and is overseen by the FCO in Kenya.
Why does DFID work in Kenya?
- Nearly 20 million Kenyans still live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day, and inequality is growing.
- During the 2007 Kenyan elections over a thousand people were killed, thousands of people were displaced, and subsequent economic growth fell to nearly 0%.
- Around 30,000 British nationals live in Kenya and over 100,000 Britons visit Kenya each year.
- The UK and Kenya are natural partners. We have a great deal in common: we have reputations for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and our economies are the fastest growing economies in our regions; we share strong democratic values. There are great opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships – in business, in trade, in defence and security.
DFID support in Kenya has:
- Enabled 550,000 children to access primary education;
- Provided 450,000 women with modern family planning services;
- Helped 1.1 million people cope with the effects of climate change;
- Improved access to clean energy for 476,000 people;
- Distributed over 11.2 million bed nets to prevent malaria.
Aid to countries mentioned in the FCO Human Rights Report – 29 July 2017
Today (29 July 2017), the Daily Mail has reported that the UK gives £2 billion to 17 countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s list of 30 Human Rights Priority Countries.
The 30 FCO Human Rights Priority Countries, as listed in the FCO Annual Human Rights Report, are countries where the FCO has a strong interest in the human rights situation, and where it judges the UK can make a real difference. It is therefore completely incorrect to say these countries are the “worst human rights offenders”.
The piece also claims that a recent National Audit Office report said that “aid cash was being dispatched overseas in a last-minute frenzy each year”. This is a misrepresentation of the NAO report, which did not support this statement. The NAO report gave a positive assessment of DFID, including its view that the department has improved its management of ODA, and is using its ODA budget more smoothly throughout the year.
Why does DFID work in these 17 countries?
DFID has committed to spending at least 50% of its budget in fragile states, to build stability in those countries, which is both in our national interest and critical to reducing poverty and meeting humanitarian needs.
A UK Government spokesperson said:
The UK speaks candidly and frankly to all countries in which we work, and firmly holds governments to account on issues of human rights, freedom of expression and governance. We will not hesitate to use UN resolutions and sanctions to focus international attention and action on any country where we have concerns over human rights.
The UK is saving and changing the lives of people in the world’s most fragile countries, helping them to live safer, more stable and prosperous lives.
What else is DFID doing on human rights?
Throughout our programmes we work to tackle a broad spectrum of human rights issues and reduce abuses, including in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, and the rights of women and girls.
We are injecting new urgency and energy in tackling some vital human rights issues that have been neglected for too long, including modern slavery and child exploitation, whilst also boosting global efforts on family planning and nutrition.
We work closely with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to raise concerns with governments at the appropriate level, including in the fragile and conflict affected countries assessed as priority in the FCO Annual Human Rights Report.
UK aid is spent where it is most needed and is subject to rigorous internal and external checks and scrutiny at all stages to ensure it helps those who need it and delivers value for money.
Currency fluctuation adjustments – 23 July 2017
Today (23 July 2017), the Mail on Sunday has reported on the “slump” of the British pound since Brexit, which the paper claims has in turn caused the Government to “lose tens of millions of pounds”.
The journalist is actually referring to “adjustments” as seen on any organisation’s Annual Report and Accounts, as a result of standard accountancy practices, applied by all international trading organisations as dictated by national and international accounting standards.
These practices simply refer to a “translation” from foreign currency into sterling which can generate gains or losses. In 2016, for example, the comparative figure was a gain of about £5m.
The figure as detailed in DFID’s accounts does not represent a charge in cash terms and nor does it involve cash payments leaving the department.
As this is an issue which affects a number of Government departments, a joint statement was issued to the Mail on Sunday:
A Government spokesperson said: “When we convert foreign currency into sterling it generates gains or losses, this is exactly the same for any organisation. Managing the impact of exchange rate changes is part of the normal responsibilities of government.”
Centre for Global Disaster Protection - 20 July 2017
Today (Thursday, 20 July 2017), International Development Minister Lord Bates is speaking at a Global Insurance Forum event. He will outline the UK’s partnership with the World Bank and Germany for the Centre for Global Disaster Protection in London that will support the poorest countries to strengthen their disaster planning and get finances in place before disaster strikes so they can better manage the economic impact of emergencies and build their resilience.
The Centre will draw on UK and international expertise to provide neutral advice, innovation and cutting edge science to help build cheaper, faster and reliable finance in emergencies that delivers the most benefit for the poorest people and can halve the cost of disasters.
Why is this important?
New research shows that disasters like hurricanes and severe droughts cost $30 billion a year across 77 of the poorest countries. While in high-income countries almost half of these costs are covered by insurance, in poorer countries less than 5% are covered and humanitarian appeals remain grossly underfunded. With little financial protection, vulnerable people face devastating hardship - they stop sending their kids to school and in many cases are left with nothing. Every year, natural disasters force 26 million people further into grinding poverty.
Natural disasters are not surprises – more can be done before a disaster strikes to build resilience and reduce the impacts on people. This will not only save lives and reduce poverty, but makes good financial sense. Every £1 spent on working to actually prevent a drought or flood turning into a disaster saves around £3 in humanitarian assistance. The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa would have cost $5 million to contain when it was first detected in Guinea in 2014, but that cost spiraled to $1 billion eight months later.
To end poverty and help countries stand on their own two feet, we must take a new approach.
How will this work in practice?
UK aid is already supporting well over 20 million people to build their resilience to natural disasters and is investing in disaster preparedness and early warning systems across 20 countries. The new Centre will help ensure disaster responses are:
- faster – time costs lives. If finance is prearranged before a disaster strikes, it can arrive in days whereas a humanitarian appeal can take months to mobilise funds needed.
- reliable - prearranged finance is more reliable, allowing better planning in advance of a disaster and better preparedness and delivery of support.
- cheaper – an earlier response can halve the costs of a disaster response and help countries and people recover more quickly.
The Centre will do this by:
- investing in data, science and research needed to design systems that work for the poorest;
- providing training and sophisticated risk analyses and financial analytics to help developing countries’ better understand and make informed decisions about how to manage risks; and
- bringing together experts from finance, science and humanitarian communities to provide neutral advice and design new, innovative financial tools – including insurance – that are right for disaster planning and deliver the most benefit for the poorest when disaster strikes.
We’ve already seen this work in practice. Last year, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility paid out to four countries, including Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew. And now we are expanding this to more places in Africa too.
Linking this prearranged finance insurance cover to existing national systems that deliver public services, like health, nutrition, water, education, sanitation and hygiene, means in times of crises, governments are able to provide increased services to help people rebuild their lives and stand on their own two feet.
The Centre will also work to build insurance markets in developing countries through supporting improvements in regulation, data and capacity. These could generate billions of pounds each year in additional national investment to boost economic development, and in turn global prosperity, which is in all our interests.
NAO report on managing the Official Development Assistance target - 18 July 2017
There is coverage today of the National Audit Office (NAO) report on managing the Official Development Assistance target. The report looked at how the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) is being managed across all government departments, including DFID.
Much of this coverage has recognised the NAO’s positive assessment of DFID in the report, including its view that the department has improved its management of ODA, and is using its ODA budget more smoothly throughout the year.
This is the departmental response provided to the media. A DFID spokesperson said:
DFID is responsible for 74% of the government’s ODA spending. Other government departments have direct responsibility for their share of the development budget and are accountable to Parliament and UK taxpayers for how they spend ODA.
The International Development Secretary continuously reviews all DFID spending and stops programmes deemed not to be delivering value for money or which fail to meet international development objectives.
The Secretary of State for International Development is driving a robust value for money agenda that includes a line by line review of all DFID ODA spending, a crackdown on profiteering suppliers, efficiency savings, and increased use of payment by results. The NAO rightly praises DFID. She expects every government department that spends aid money to do the same. DFID is sharing its tough approach with other government who spend ODA to make sure they can apply the same approach.
What have the papers said?
The Telegraph headline claims that ‘Aid cash wasted in rush to hit targets’. This claim is not substantiated by the report. The National Audit Office do not say that ODA is being wasted.
The Mail Online headline states ‘up to 98% of budgets handed out in three months’. This is misleading, only one Department spent 98% of its budget in three months. The Mail Online also write that ‘The cash pot is now so large – £13 billion a year – that the Department for International Development (DFID) is asking other ministries to help dole it out.’ This is untrue, the government’s UK aid Strategy sought to increase the amount of ODA allocated to other government departments, DFID is not asking Departments to ‘help’ spend ODA.
The Times has focused on the use of promissory notes. Contrary to the suggestion that billions of pounds of British aid is “lying unused by international development organisations”, the use of promissory notes allows DFID to meet its funding commitments whilst avoiding large cash balances sitting unutilised within multilateral organisations. Promissory notes allow us to make the long-term funding commitments that are needed for life-saving work such as HIV/AIDS anti-retrovirals, without having to provide all the cash up front - they are the smart, sustainable, value for money approach. Promissory give us flexibility in the system that we need to ensure UK aid can be used when humanitarian emergencies hit. The investment is not completed until projects have delivered against agreed objectives and this ensures that value for money is not compromised.
The Express online headline says ‘Government ‘SCRAMBLING to hit targets’ as overseas spending soars’. This quote is not supported by the report, or the text of their article.
Staff performance-related pay – 14 July 2017
Today’s Daily Mail (14 July 2017) features an article on page 40 about performance-related payments at DFID, following the publication of data in the Annual Report and Accounts. The same story is also being reported on The Sun and The Telegraph online.
All government departments operate performance-related pay – this is a normal part of ensuring that civil servants are incentivised to perform well and deliver value for the taxpayer.
Policies on providing performance-related pay and the budget for these payments are set by the Cabinet Office and not DFID.
The Department has some of the lowest overheads in Whitehall and has already reduced administration costs by a third to deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer.
These non-consolidated performance related payments are in place across all Government departments to provide a cost effective way of rewarding performance.
This is consistent across the entire Civil Service and DFID Staff are paid in line with standard Civil Service rules.
Emergency aid to Mosul - 13 July 2017
There is positive online, broadcast and print coverage today (Thursday 13th July) of the UK’s commitment to sending lifesaving aid to the people of Mosul after the official liberation of the city was announced on Monday. This appeared on Sky News, Daily Mirror and The Herald along with other international and regional outlets.
UK aid will provide vital survival items including clean drinking water, food, tents, cooking equipment, soap, and vaccinations against deadly diseases. The UK will be supporting a UN-led stabilisation programme that has already helped 200,000 Iraqis return to their city after years of fighting and Daesh oppression. This will help displaced people reintegrate into their communities when they return home by contributing to the renovation of essential infrastructure such as water facilities, power networks, clinics and schools.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
Mosul’s liberation is a great victory for the people of Iraq who have shown extraordinary bravery, and a great stride forward for global security. However, the horrific actions of Daesh mean the humanitarian situation in Mosul remains very serious.
The UK has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response, and we will continue to stand by the people of Iraq as the painstaking work begins to rebuild homes and infrastructure in Mosul, as well as a lasting peace for the city.
This latest support from Britain will mean the difference between life and death for people who have suffered under Daesh, it will allow people to rebuild their lives in their home city, and it will support the Government of Iraq’s efforts to build a stable, secure and prosperous Iraq.
Family Planning Summit - 11 July 2017
There is widespread media coverage this morning (Tuesday 11 July) of today’s Family Planning Summit that we are co-hosting with Melinda Gates and the UN Population Fund. The summit aims to ensure millions more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries can access family planning services.
Today, the International Development Secretary Priti Patel has announced an extra £45 million for family planning a year for five years, increasing the UK’s total package of support which will save the life of one woman every 90 minutes in the world’s poorest countries across Africa and Asia.
Watch out for interviews with Priti Patel and Melinda Gates on BBC, ITV and Sky news and stories and information on our Facebook and Twitter channels. Meanwhile, DFID’s Instagram has been taken over by two International Citizen Service youth reporters. Share your thoughts on what family planning means to you using #HerFuture.
Voluntary family planning saves lives by enabling women to plan, and have fewer, pregnancies – reducing their risk of death through unsafe childbirth. This risk is very high in the world’s poorest countries, especially for adolescents.
The UK’s total package of support until 2022 will every year:
- help save the lives of over 6,000 women by preventing maternal deaths – that’s one woman every 90 minutes;
- support nearly 20 million women to receive voluntary contraceptives through family planning services;
- help avert 6 million unintended pregnancies; and
- help prevent the trauma of 75,000 stillbirths and nearly 44,000 new-born deaths.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
It’s truly astonishing that in today’s world there are still 214 million women around the world who do not want to get pregnant, but who are not currently using modern methods of family planning.
Britain is leading the world on sexual and reproductive health, helping millions more women in the world’s poorest countries to access and use desperately-needed family planning services.
This new UK aid support will provide 20 million women with voluntary contraception, change the lives of 6 million women by allowing them to avoid unintended pregnancies and prevent the trauma of 75,000 still births.
But this isn’t a job for the UK alone and that’s why at this global Summit governments from around the world have come together to make commitments on family planning to address the long term need and unsustainable population growth.
We are supporting the world’s poorest women to take control of their lives, so they can finish their education, get better jobs and in turn provide for their smaller, planned families rather than being trapped in a cycle of grinding poverty through unplanned pregnancies.
G20 Summit: New London Centre for Global Disaster Protection - 8 July 2017
Today (Saturday 8 July) there is widespread coverage across the newspapers of an ambitious new package of measures unveiled at the G20 to boost Africa’s prosperity and stability, and reduce its reliance on aid in the long-term.
As part of this, a new London Centre for Global Disaster Protection was announced that will help developing countries strengthen their resilience and response to natural disasters, including through better understanding and access to insurance to provide cheaper, faster and more reliable finance in emergencies, such as the severe drought in East Africa.
The economic costs of disasters in developing countries are rising and since 1980 have been equivalent to one third of all official development assistance (ODA). While in high-income countries almost half of all losses are absorbed by insurance, in poorer countries less than 5% of losses are covered. This protection gap means that losses are borne by people, businesses and government, slowing growth and forcing people into poverty.
Facts behind the headlines
There were a number of factual inaccuracies in the reporting of the new London Centre for Global Disaster Protection on 8 July:
Claim: The Express, the Mirror and the Sun claim the UK is paying £30 million in insurance premiums to rich insurance firms, while the Mail puts this figure at £228 million.
Facts: The London Centre will not provide £30 million for insurance premiums and DFID is not giving any money directly to insurance firms for premium financing. The majority of UK support – which totals up to £30 million – will go on providing expert advice, developing cutting edge science and robust plans for managing risks. This will help developing countries better understand and access the right insurance for them when disaster strikes. Early action can halve the cost of disasters and protect millions of people who would bear the brunt of these costs and be trapped in cycles of poverty. As part of this programme, we are undertaking a pilot – of up to £8 million - where we provide grants to the poorest developing countries to help fund their insurance cover, as a first step to helping them stand on their own two feet. The pilot will be focused on linking insurance cover to existing national systems that deliver essential public services, like health, nutrition, water, education, sanitation and hygiene, that mean in times of crises they are able to provide increased services to those in need, reducing the impact of recurring natural disasters and helping people to rebuild their lives more quickly.
Claim: The Mirror suggests that the aim is for British insurance firms to make money out of developing countries after the initial four years.
Facts: The aim of this programme is to help end poverty by providing a cheaper, faster and more effective response to disasters for developing countries and reducing the need for expensive humanitarian aid, to manage the more predictable natural disasters such as drought. Insurance protection stimulated through this centre could provide up to £2 billion over the next decade when crises hit to ensure that the high costs of disasters aren’t borne by the poorest people trapping them in cycles of poverty. Its work to build insurance markets in developing countries could generate billions of pounds each year in additional national investment to boost economic development. This will also boost global prosperity and open up opportunities that UK insurance firms can compete for, but DFID is also linking developing countries to insurance solutions that works for them.
Claim: The Sun suggests the UK is spending £30 million to help people overseas deal with floods and not helping people in the UK
Facts: The Centre will not provide £30 million for insurance premiums and the focus of our support will be for drought-stricken countries. As part of this programme, we are undertaking a pilot – of up to £8 million - where we provide support to developing countries to part-fund their insurance cover, as a first step to helping them stand on their own two feet. Only around a quarter is likely to be for flood cover. In the UK, as in many other countries, the Government supports insurance for the most vulnerable, filling gaps otherwise left by commercial insurance.
Claim: The Mail suggests that African countries will only start paying for their own insurance cover after four years and that it makes them dependent on us.
Facts: This is not true. The initial grants will be targeted at the poorest countries to help them access insurance protection will only ever be part of the overall cost of insurance, and it will reduce over time. This is about helping reduce the crippling cost of disasters for developing countries and ensuring they can stand on their own two feet by ending their total reliance on humanitarian aid.
Claim: The Express says the London Centre could end up providing £2 billion when crises hit.
Facts: This is incorrect. We estimate that the expert advice provided by this Centre will help the poorest countries use the right insurance for them, which could unlock up to £2 billion over the next ten years in fast, predictable pay-outs when disasters hit. This will build countries’ resilience to emergencies and ensure that the high costs of disasters aren’t borne by the poorest people trapping them in cycles of poverty.
Claim: The Mirror suggests this is a risky and untested way to use UK taxpayers money
Facts: Actually, providing grants for insurance cover is already used in several donor-funded insurance schemes, and in many developed countries too, including the UK. These types of programmes exist in the Caribbean, which is regularly hit by cyclones and other natural disasters, and have been operating successfully for several years.
Our trading partners of the future - 7 July 2017
Over the past few days you may have seen coverage of our commitment to secure existing duty-free access to UK markets and provide new opportunities to increase trade links. The story was covered by both print and broadcasters including the BBC and Daily Express in the UK as well as in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Rwanda and Zambia that will benefit from the commitment. International Development Secretary Priti Patel talked about the announcement on BBC, ITV and Sky. You can also get more details on Twitter.
Commenting on the announcement, International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
The UK is using its position as a great, global trading nation to seize opportunities to lift countries out of grinding poverty. This will generate the wealth, prosperity and investment needed to create millions of jobs and help the world’s poorest people stand on their own two feet.
Helping developing countries harness the formidable power of trade means we are not only creating trading partners of the future for UK businesses, but supporting jobs at home too. Building a more prosperous world and supporting our own long-term economic security is firmly in all our interests.
Family Planning Summit
We’re also already seeing coverage ahead of next week’s Family Planning Summit that we are co-hosting with Melinda Gates and the UN Population Fund. The summit aims to ensure millions more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries can access family planning services.
DFID’s efficiency review - 1 July 2017
Today’s Daily Mail (1 July 2017) front page led with a story on the Department for International Development’s wage bill.
The International Development Secretary is leading a robust efficiency review which is estimated to save £500 million by 2019/20, higher than the target set in the 2015 Spending Review.
These savings will be made through reform of procurement and commercial practices, estates, IT and departmental pay.
The Department has some of the lowest overheads in Whitehall and has already reduced admin costs by a third to deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer.
To deliver value for money, save lives and keep Britain safe, DFID needs staff who can relentlessly scrutinise everything we do and work in the some of the most fragile and difficult places in the world.
Staff are paid in line with standard Civil Service rules.
UK tackles deadly migration crisis in Central Mediterranean - 22 June 2017
There has been widespread coverage in print, online and broadcast this morning (22 June) on DFID’s new £75 million humanitarian package to tackle the deadly Mediterranean migration crisis. The Prime Minister will confirm details of the package at the European Council in Brussels tomorrow.
Focusing on the particularly dangerous Central Mediterranean route where most lives are lost, this new funding will provide desperately needed life-saving aid such as food, clean water and shelter to vulnerable refugees and migrants, as well as tackling people trafficking and smuggling.
The programme will also raise awareness of the risks of the Central Mediterranean route and help voluntary returns and reintegration for people who are already travelling but change their minds and want to return home, rather than continue with their perilous journeys. Read more about this package here.
Commenting on the announcement, International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
The UK has been at the forefront of responding to the migration crisis and our work to date has helped reduce total migrant numbers to Europe since 2015. But worryingly, more and more people are now using the incredibly dangerous Central Mediterranean route.
This new UK support will provide desperately needed aid and protection to tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable. But critically it will also make clear the massive risks involved at every stage of this route and provide alternatives so those who change their minds can return home.
As well as saving lives, this will provide vulnerable people with meaningful alternatives to the treacherous crossings into Europe. Building on our existing work to deal with the root causes of migration, this approach is about using our aid in a smart way, as part of a coordinated approach across Government, to provide protection to people who need it and serve Britain’s national interests.
The Rt Hon Priti Patel has been reappointed as Secretary of State for International Development. The Secretary of State leads the DFID ministerial team and sets the overall strategy and direction of the department.
Rory Stewart OBE MP and the Rt Hon Alistair Burt have been appointed as joint DFID and FCO ministers. Their appointment will build on the existing close cooperation between the two departments to strengthen the coordination of Britain’s diplomatic and development work around the world, in line with each department’s distinct roles and responsibilities. The Rt Hon Lord Bates has been reappointed as Minister of State for DFID.
Specific areas of responsibility for our junior Ministers as follows:
Rory Stewart OBE MP
- Africa (covering FCO and DFID policy)
- Innovation and Research
- Climate and Environment
- Corporate Performance Group
Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP
- Middle East and North Africa (covering FCO and DFID policy)
- Conflict, Humanitarian, and Security
- Human Development
- Children, Youth and Education
- Cross-Government funds
- Global Funds
Rt Hon Lord Bates
- Caribbean & Overseas Territories
- United Nations and Commonwealth
- Economic Development & International Financial Institutions
- Europe and Trade
- Inclusive Societies: disability; ageing, faith; LGBT; Violence Against Women and Girls, Gender
- Global Partnerships
- Supplier Review
DFID’s approach to accountability and transparency
Today’s Daily Mail (20 June 2017) reports accusations that the Department for International Development is “in denial” about aid waste.
DFID’s work is driven by a commitment to achieve the very best results and value for taxpayers’ money.
In recent months, the department has:
- launched a supplier review to improve accountability and transparency in the private sector
- increased the number of performance agreements which mean funding is only provided if a certain results threshold is met
- closed programmes that are not assessed to deliver the very best value for money
The department is also committed to transparency and accountability and is determined to ensure the public are given the full picture about where, how and why we spend their money. DFID is one of the most transparent donors in the world, coming fourth in the 2016 Aid Transparency Index and makes all its programme information available online.
This is the statement that was provided to the newspaper.
A DFID spokesperson said:
Every day UK aid is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world and in doing so, protecting Britain’s interests.
It is our duty to give British taxpayers the full picture on how, where and why we are spending their money.
DFID’s approach to tackling fraud
The Times published a clarification in today’s paper (20 April 2017) following a leader earlier this week (17 April 2017) where they reported that DFID “may lose as much as £300 million a year to fraud without noticing”. This is factually inaccurate and completely misleading.
This figure was first used in a headline about unreported fraud in the Times on February 8, following a National Audit Office report (NAO) into DFID’s approach to fraud.
The Times clarified in today’s paper (20 April 2017) as it did when first reported, that the £300 million figure is an extrapolation by the paper which did not feature in the NAO report itself. In fact, the report stated that DFID lost £3.2 million to fraud, not £300 million, and we have recovered two-thirds of the £3.2 million.
The report also recognised that DFID has a zero tolerance approach to fraud, and acknowledges the comprehensive and strengthened measures DFID has in place to tackle and eliminate it, including our dedicated specialist Counter Fraud Unit which investigates all allegations of fraud and always seeks to recover funds.
Christian refugees and UK aid in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East
Some media coverage today (Thursday 13 April) talks about Christian refugees and UK aid in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
In Iraq, Syria and across the region, UN managed camps are always open to the most vulnerable and do not make any sectarian distinctions. We would welcome any substantiating evidence supporting claims to the contrary that we could investigate - but to date no such evidence has been provided.
All UK aid – in the Middle East, just like anywhere else in the world - is provided in line with core humanitarian principles. That means that whoever needs our help the most gets it first, regardless of race, gender or religion.
Inevitably that includes Christians as well as those of other faiths: not because of their beliefs, but because of their needs.
In providing this aid, we work with trusted partners including UN bodies who operate in line with those same principles of neutrality and impartiality. That extends to practicalities such as how refugee camps are run and staff are hired and managed. It is wrong - and misleading - to suggest otherwise.
The same is true of all of our resettlement schemes. The UK works closely with UNHCR to identify cases from Syria’s neighbouring countries that they deem most in need of resettlement according to their established vulnerability criteria. And it is certainly not the case that eligibility for this scheme is restricted to those in formal refugee camps – in fact, those in camps account for only around 10 per cent of all refugees in the region.
We have committed to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees through our Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme over the course of this parliament. We are on track to achieve that and have already provided refuge to more than 5,000 people under this route.
It should also be noted that while our aid is provided to those inside refugee camps, it is certainly not restricted to them. In fact, the vast majority of Syrian refugees across the Middle East, as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq and Syria, live in host communities rather than in camps. DFID is active in providing them with support.
Our aid is providing lifesaving food, water, shelter and medicine to millions of people across the Middle East, as well as providing opportunities for people to find work and benefit from an education. And that aid is carefully tracked and monitored so we know it is reaching those in desperate need - wherever they are and whatever their faith might be.
We have responded to queries about this issue as follows:
A Government spokesman said:
UK aid is provided in line with humanitarian principles, so whoever needs our help the most gets it first, regardless of race, gender or religion.
We work with trusted partners who operate in line with those same principles of neutrality and impartiality, including in practicalities such as refugee camp management and staffing. To suggest otherwise is wrong.
And with all of our resettlement schemes we work closely with UNHCR to identify cases that they deem most in need of resettlement according to their established vulnerability criteria.
OECD report on global development statistics
Following a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on global development statistics showing the UK continues to meet the 0.7% target for its development budget, media have today (Wednesday 12 April) reported the fact that around one in every eight pounds of all aid spending globally is contributed by the UK.
The OECD report also shows that Germany, for the first time, has joined Britain as the second major economy to invest 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income on development. As a result of other countries stepping up to follow the UK’s lead, Britain’s share as a proportion of global aid has fallen slightly.
The full response to the report is as follows.
A Government spokesperson said:
At times of global instability, it’s more important than ever for us to be outward looking and engaged. We welcome Germany stepping up to follow our lead and joining Britain as the second G20 country to meet its commitments to the world’s poorest people – now it’s time for others to do the same.
The UK’s development budget is an important part of securing Britain’s place in the world, alongside our world-class diplomatic service, 2 per cent commitment on defence spending and permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Whether it’s stepping up our support for desperate Syrian refugees, tackling the lethal legacy of landmines or giving life-saving aid to stop people dying of hunger in East Africa, UK aid is keeping Britain safe while the helping developing countries stand on their own two feet.
Facts behind the headlines
- The UK’s economy is doing well – with strong growth during 2016. This is good for Britain. As set out at the 2015 Spending Review by HM Treasury, the UK development budget is adjusted in line with our economic growth (GNI).
- The UK aid strategy confirms that the UK Government will continue to meet our commitment to invest 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on overseas development assistance a year. This is also a manifesto commitment, reaffirmed by the Prime Minister.
- The UK continues to meet the 0.7 target in 2016, based on provisional data. Final figures will be published at the end of 2017.
- Our development budget is an important part of securing Britain’s place in the world, alongside our world-class diplomatic service, 2 per cent commitment on defence spending and permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
- This month we have announced that UK aid is being used to tackle the lethal legacy of landmines through a tripling of our support. This will make safe the equivalent of over 20,000 football pitches and help 800,000 people live their lives free from the threat of mines.
- Global Britain is also leading the international response to the protracted crisis in Syria with the Prime Minister recently setting out the details of a £1 billion jobs, education and aid package to support the most vulnerable victims of the Syrian conflict.
- The UK is leading the international response to the humanitarian crisis in East Africa. UK aid matched pound for pound up to £10 million British public donations to the DEC East Africa East Crisis Appeal. And we stepped up UK aid support in South Sudan and Somalia to stop people dying from hunger by giving life-saving aid. The International Development Secretary has called on the international community to step up and follow our lead before it’s too late.
- Building economic growth and creating jobs helps developing countries lift themselves out of poverty and benefits the UK too, by creating new markets for UK businesses to trade with and invest in.
- The Government has introduced measures to ensure all departments investing in overseas development focus on value for money, identify and root out wasteful spending, and are accountable to UK taxpayers.
Threat of famine in Yemen - Tuesday 11 April
You may have seen recent coverage of the desperate humanitarian situation and the threat of famine in Yemen.
The UK has been at the forefront of the response to this crisis and is the 4th largest humanitarian donor to Yemen, committing more than £100 million in aid for 2016/17, and match funding the first £5 million in public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal pound for pound.
For both of the last two years, UK aid has ensured life-saving food, medical supplies, clean water and emergency shelter reached more than 1 million Yemenis in desperate need across the country.
At the UN General Assembly last September, the UK Government secured more than $100 million [approximately £80 million] in new funding to help those in need, and a commitment from UN agencies to strengthen their response to the crisis.
We will continue to call on all parties to the conflict to ensure lifesaving assistance can get through and aid agencies get the access they require. And we will keep pushing international donors to deliver the funding needed to save lives, including in the run up to the UN Yemen pledging event in Geneva on 25 April.
Provisional UK ODA as a proportion of GNI
On 5 April 2017 DFID published its annual national statistics publication “Provisional UK ODA as a proportion of GNI, 2016”.
Our development budget is an important part of securing Britain’s place in the world, alongside our world-class diplomatic service, 2% commitment on defence spending and permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The provisional ODA statistics show that the UK continues to meet the 0.7 target in 2016. Final figures will be published in autumn 2017 as part of “Statistics on International Development”.
You may have seen coverage across print and online media yesterday and today. The majority of media reports focused on how the ODA budget has increased by 10% according to the provisional data. Some coverage suggested that ODA spend has increased because of an increase in the UK’s spend on illegal activities and that this is newly recorded as part of GNI under the new methodology (ESA2010). This is not the case. Spend on illegal activities was also included in the old GNI methodology (ESA 1995). A full explanation into the reason for the increase in ODA spend is below.
Why has ODA increased by 10%?
As part of the 2015 spending review, it was decided the UK Government would meet the commitment to use the updated GNI methodology for the ODA target effective from 2016.
The ODA:GNI ratio in 2016 is based on the current international standard for measuring GNI (“ESA6 2010”). The ESA 2010 methodology leads to higher levels of national income compared with the previous methodology for GNI, known as ESA 1995, due to additional areas of economic activity being included in ESA 2010, with the biggest change being the inclusion of R&D investment.
In previous years, the UK has reported the ODA:GNI ratio on the basis of the ESA 1995 methodology for calculating GNI. This included some illegal activities (which only have a small impact) as part of the measurement and these are also included in ESA2010. The UK’s GNI measurement was updated to ESA2010, to bring it in line with other countries and international standards.
Our full response to the provisional ODA statistics is here:
A Government spokesperson said:
Our international development budget only increases when the UK economy grows, a sign of our economic success. This money is an investment in Britain’s own security – ensuring the world is more prosperous, developed and stable.
Whether it’s stepping up our support for desperate Syrian refugees, tackling the lethal legacy of landmines or giving life-saving aid to stop people dying of hunger in East Africa; UK aid is keeping Britain safe while the helping the world’s poorest stand on their own two feet.
DFID and other government department ODA:
As the UK aid Strategy set out – DFID will continue to spend the majority of the UK ODA budget, with other government departments increasing the proportion they spend. This is to make sure we are responding to the changing world and global challenges we now face, such as the spread of preventable disease and political instability; by using more skills and expertise from across government departments.
DFID’s use of Private Sector Contractors - Tuesday 4 April
Today the International Development Committee published its report into DFID’s use of private sector contractors.
There was widespread coverage of the report by BBC, Guardian, Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the Sun and the Times. The Times carried the story on its front page.
The coverage mainly focused on the conduct of contractors and quotes from the confidential oral evidence annex to the report, which includes the comment by one unidentified contractor that unethical behaviour is “absolutely embedded” in the culture and “overcharging the taxpayer” for providing foreign aid.
The report commends the ability of DFID’s procurement function to source development interventions quickly when needed (eg Ebola crisis), and for “its efforts in driving down costs and delivering value for money for the taxpayer”. It also recognises our recent steps to map supply chains, capture learning from contractors and move to Open Book accounting. It also highlights an over reliance on self-regulation of suppliers and “the appalling conduct of some contractors who have behaved in a way that is entirely misaligned with the Department’s purpose”.
DFID takes contractor conduct extremely seriously.
Our full response to the IDC report is here:
A DFID spokesperson said:
The Secretary of State has been crystal clear that she expects all suppliers to deliver results for the world’s poorest, provide value for taxpayers’ money and that she will not tolerate anything less. The Department is undertaking a fundamental review of its work with suppliers to instigate root and branch reform based on accountability and transparency. We welcome this IDC report as a helpful contribution to ensure UK Aid will continue to save lives and change lives across the developing world.
DFID action to tighten up supplier practices
The Secretary of State has ensured any specific allegations brought to her attention are rigorously investigated and taken decisive action. This was the case with Adam Smith International and we welcome their temporary withdrawal from DFID procurement, which recognises the seriousness of our concerns about the supplier’s behaviour.
More broadly the Secretary of State has written to all our suppliers outlining the standards we expect of them, setting out new safeguards and making it clear that there is there is no room for excessive profiteering or unethical practices.
The supplier review, currently underway, will reinforce this with tough new codes of practice and systems to ensure compliance – including open book accounting. The review will look at a number of ways to map our supply chain. It will also present practical ways to bring more competition, innovation and choice into our supplier market, particularly for smaller and developing country suppliers.
We will broaden our supplier base and make our procurement process easier for smaller contractors. We will also introduce a code of conduct for DFID staff working with suppliers, and increase our commercial expertise to ensure we are holding our suppliers to account.
Geothermal energy in the Caribbean - Monday 3 April
Today The Daily Mail published an article on a UK supported geothermal energy programme in the Caribbean, which suffers from some of the highest energy costs in the world.
This is DFID’s response to the Mail’s claims:
A DFID spokesperson said:
Global Britain is ensuring highly vulnerable countries in the Caribbean, which are particularly prone to natural disasters like the recent devastating hurricane Matthew, have the essential infrastructure needed to grow their economies and ultimately stand on their own two feet.
IDC report on DFID’s allocation of resources
This morning’s media (28 March 2017) cover the International Development Committee’s report on DFID’s allocation of resources. DFID’s full response to the report is as follows.
A DFID spokesperson said:
At a time when the world is facing numerous unprecedented humanitarian crises, saving lives depends on using UK aid in the most effective and accountable way possible.
The Secretary of State’s remit is to challenge the aid system to do more for the world’s poorest and UK taxpayers while championing Global Britain’s support for development.
Britain’s place in the world is enhanced by our commitment to UK aid but we should never shy away from delivering the tough messages of reform that will make a real difference on the ground.
There is increasing media reporting of humanitarian crises in Somalia, South Sudan, North East Nigeria and Yemen.
Before February, there had only been one certified famine globally since 2000. Parts of South Sudan are now in famine and in 2017 there is a credible risk of another three famines in Yemen, North East Nigeria and Somalia.
The UN estimates that 20 million people urgently need humanitarian assistance in these four countries.
The UK has been working in all of these countries, helping them prepare for food and health emergencies and providing food, water and emergency healthcare to the many families already in desperate need.
The UK Government is also calling on the rest of the international community to step up, pledge more and be more efficient and effective in their response.
DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal
Today, the International Development Secretary announced that the UK Government will match, pound for pound, the first £5 million of public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) East Africa Crisis Appeal.
The DEC brings together 13 leading UK aid agencies to raise money at times of humanitarian crisis in poorer countries. By working together we can raise more money to save lives and rebuild shattered communities.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
“In 2017, we face an unprecedented challenge with millions of people stalked by the scourge of famine. Britain has acted without hesitation – UK aid funded food, water and emergency healthcare is being delivered across East Africa right now, but more support is urgently needed to prevent a catastrophe.
“In times of crises, the British people are renowned for their incredible generosity and by matching pound for pound public donations to the DEC Appeal, the Government will double the difference Britons can make to the lives of children dying of hunger.
“The international community must now follow Global Britain’s lead to save lives and stop the famine before it becomes a stain on our collective conscience. The world cannot afford to wait.”
Climate change projects
Today (13 March), the Daily Telegraph has published an article which claims aid is being “wasted” on the Climate Investment Fund (CIF).
Facts Behind the Headlines:
What is the Climate Investment Fund?
The CIF is a fund implemented by the Multilateral Development Banks. It works in more than 70 countries to help protect the world’s poorest people from effects of climate change such as extreme weather that can cause life-threatening floods, drought and famine and tackle some of the underlying causes. Both DFID and BEIS contribute to the CIF. The Climate Investment Fund is split into 4 programmes:
Clean Technology Fund (CTF)
Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR)
Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP)
Forest Investment Programme (FIP)
DFID’s support to the CIF runs until 2023 and the programmes are on course to meet their targets and are already having an impact.
What is the Scaling up Renewable Energy Programme (SREP)?
SREP is a programme within CIF that works in 27 of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world, which have been hit by natural disasters (such as Nepal earthquake), epidemics (such as Ebola), political and social unrest since SREP was formed.
This includes such countries as Nepal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti, Mali.
SREP is supporting these countries to deliver innovative renewable energy projects and programmes including hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal. These large infrastructure projects provide better energy access for people living in some of the poorest countries in the world and support countries’ economic growth.
It is misleading to say SREP is not delivering “effective results”. There are 68 projects under SREP – these figures come from only 3 projects from the December 2016 results report, which was reporting on expected results that will be delivered from 18 of the 68 SREP projects. The majority are in construction phase.
Of these 18 projects the above figures of electricity generated comes from the first SREP project to start to deliver electricity, and the number of people supported comes from the first 2 projects providing new or improved access to energy in Nepal and Honduras. The UK’s contributions will support all 68 projects. As more of the 68 projects move to implementation both the expected results and the achieved results will increase.
SREP is still a relatively young programme. The first group of countries started their projects in 2011 and the second group in 2013. Even in more advanced countries we would expect projects to take 5 to 7 years to reach implementation. As SREP projects are working in some of the most vulnerable and poorest countries in the world, this adds extra constraints.
Large infrastructure projects, take time to design and reach implementation, even when they are under operation, projects will typically have a ramp up period i.e. slowly getting to full operational potential over a period of time, which will be reflected in the volume of results they report. Given that SREP projects are working in some of the poorest countries in the world they also involve helping local governments put the systems in place to help new and innovative projects grow – time for this has to be considered in a project’s lifespan.
Here is our response to the Telegraph’s article:
A Government spokesperson said:
“The Climate Investment Fund is helping provide the world’s poorest people with stronger defences to extreme weather which can cause life-threatening crises such as floods, droughts and famine. “The UK’s investment is already delivering results by producing reliable sources of food, improving infrastructure and giving people access to clean energy, and all programmes are on course to meet the published performance targets for 2023.”
climate programmes help protect the world’s poorest people from extreme weather. This includes improving farming practices to provide more reliable sources of food, putting in early warning systems to anticipate extreme weather, and large scale infrastructure projects such as hydro and solar power
lots of the support provided to countries by the CIF are loans which are reinvested back into the CIF to then help further programmes
we are already seeing good results: UK funding alone has already helped over a million people to cope with the effects of climate change and emissions have already been reduced by the equivalent of taking 3 million cars off the road – with more than half a million of these due to UK funding alone
lots of the projects are delivering large infrastructure projects - hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal - in some of the most fragile countries in the world. Even in more advanced countries we would expect projects to take 5 to 7 years to reach implementation stage. These projects started in 2011 or later and most are in the design phase. As more and more projects enter implementation phase, results will continue to increase
DFID keeps all of its spending under constant review to make sure our investments are delivering results and value for money
UK support for education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Mail on Sunday (12 March) and Daily Express (13 March) have written stories relating to UK support for education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is DFID’s response to these claims.
A DFID spokesperson said:
The British Government funding to the Palestinian Authority has recently changed. UK support only goes to vetted teachers and is helping up to 25,000 young Palestinians go to school. Denying them an education would leave them more vulnerable to extremism.
UK support ensures that we work to promote values of peace and understanding in all our work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and we utterly deplore any attempt to glorify violence or intolerance.
In January 2017 the Development Secretary announced that the UK will support new coexistence (people-to-people) programmes in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to help build understanding between people on both sides of the conflict.
There is more detail on our new approach to funding for the Palestinian Authority here.
ICAI review of the UK’s response to irregular migration in the central Mediterranean - 10 March 2017
Media reports today (Friday, 10 March) pick up on a review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact of the UK’s response to irregular migration in the central Mediterranean.
The review recognises that the UK has been influential in “reshaping the international response to protracted displacement” and says we have been “active and innovative…(in)…responding to the aspirations of would-be migrants” as well as singling out our leadership in developing jobs compacts in countries like Ethiopia that potentially offer longer-term responses to the lack of opportunity that is an underlying cause of migration.
However, the review also suggests that we have not properly considered the risk of causing harm to vulnerable migrants through our work with the Libyan coastguard and in detention centres in Libya. For all of our work in Libya, we are confident that the correct risk and human rights assessments were carried out and all of this work is underpinned by the principle that it will ‘do no harm’. We have checks in place to make sure that is the case, including the risk and human rights compliance measures that the review calls for.
As the review recognises, Libya is a challenging environment in which to operate - but our support to the coastguard focuses on law enforcement and human rights and helps save lives at sea. As the report itself notes, the sea crossing from Libya is particularly hazardous, with around 5,000 migrants known to have lost their lives on the Mediterranean in 2016.
We are not providing funding to the Libyan authorities, nor are we supporting detention centres. Our support goes to trusted UN and NGO partners who are working in detention centres to protect migrants’ human rights and improve conditions, including care and counselling, advice, and options to return home safely.
More broadly, the UK continues to support Operation Sophia, which is tackling people smuggling in the Mediterranean. To date, Royal Navy vessels have destroyed more than 150 smuggler vessels.
The report itself is clear that this is a newly-emerged crisis and it’s too early to meaningfully judge the impact of a lot of the work that is currently underway. But we are providing immediate aid – shelter, food, medical care - to vulnerable migrants that is saving lives. And we’re investing in research and rigorously monitoring and evaluating programmes to better identify the most effective ways to address this crisis and to make sure we stay on the right track to deliver results in the longer term.
Our response to the review is as below:
Cross government efforts are tackling the root causes of migration by building opportunity and stability for people in their home regions so they don’t need to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
ICAI rightly praises our innovative work in Ethiopia where we are creating 30,000 jobs for refugees.
We’re also getting help to vulnerable migrants who have already started their treacherous journey. Since May 2015, British vessels have saved more than 13,000 lives in the Mediterranean.
Defence of the development budget - 9 March 2017
Today (Thursday, 9 March) The Mail and The Sun have written stories suggesting that the UK’s development budget is set to increase due to the strength of the economy.
Here is DFID’s response to those articles.
A DFID spokesperson said:
With the world facing the real threat of famine in four countries, UK aid is the difference between life and death for millions, and gives Global Britain the authority to stand tall on the world stage.
Conflict, migration and disease know no borders, and we will continue to tackle the root causes of these problems before they threaten us here in the UK.
Facts behind the headlines:
- The Spring Budget 2017 maintains the government’s manifesto commitment to invest 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA).
- Our development work is an important part of securing Britain’s place in the world, alongside our world-class diplomatic service, 2 per cent commitment on defence spending and permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
- UK Aid has a life-changing impact and we are leading the way in combatting poverty, preventing the spread of disease and reducing the pressures of mass migration, all of which are in Britain’s interest .
Support for Marie Stopes International - 7 March 2017
Today (Tuesday, 7 March) the Daily Mail highlights DFID’s support for Marie Stopes, including its provision of safe abortions to women in the developing world. We have been clear on the importance of this work, as set out in our position below.
The piece also made reference to investigations into Marie Stopes clinics in the UK. Marie Stopes International work that DFID partners with is separate from the Marie Stopes UK clinics.
Here is DFID’s response to that article.
A DFID spokesperson said:
Britain rightly ensures that millions of the world’s poorest women have access to essential female healthcare they would be otherwise denied with a focus on improving access to modern contraception. Through MSI the UK also supports access to safe abortion rather than abandoning vulnerable women to run the risk of dangerous, life-threatening backstreet abortions.
Facts behind the headlines:
- Marie Stopes International work that DFID partners with is separate from the Marie Stopes work in the UK.
- DFID has robust monitoring systems of our MSI programmes to ensure that MSI services meet the World Health Organisation clinical standards we would expect globally
- DFID’s work with MSI includes maternal health services, family planning, safe abortion (where this is legal) and post abortion care.
- DFID does not support abortion as a method of family planning. Indeed we are working to increase access to modern methods of contraception, which ultimately reduces need for abortion. This has been the UK’s position since the Cairo Programme of Action was agreed in 1994.
- But unsafe abortion remains one of the biggest killers of women around the world. Every year it claims nearly 22,000 lives and an estimated seven million women are hospitalised with serious complications such as bleeding or infection. Providing women with safe alternatives saves lives.
- DFID’s support for safe abortion will always be provided in the context of supporting much wider comprehensive reproductive health services. DFID strongly advocates that the most effective way to reduce recourse to unsafe abortion is to empower women and girls to control their own fertility – through access to modern family planning methods.
- DFID is determined to deliver results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money through greater scrutiny and transparency. Previous independent investigations have found that DFID obtains highly competitive prices from its contractors that are below those in the competitive market.
Staff travel costs - 5 March 2017
Today (Sunday, 5 March) the Mail on Sunday has written a story suggesting that DFID has high staff travel costs.
Here is DFID’s response to that article.
A DFID spokesperson said:
DFID is committed to achieving the best results for the world’s poorest and value for money for the British taxpayer, which is why we have reduced our spend on non-standard travel by over 60% since 2012.
Facts behind the headlines:
- DFID policy is for employees to use the most efficient and economic means of travel for duty visits.
- This is part of DFID’s continued value for money drive which has seen our overall administration budget cut by a third over the past five years.
- More than half of DFID staff are based overseas, often in difficult and fragile places or countries, yet we have some of the lowest overheads in Whitehall.
Reform and restructure of Adam Smith International (ASI) - 2 March 2017
Responding to ASI’s announcement that it will reform and restructure the organisation, a DFID spokesperson said:
We welcome ASI’s temporary withdrawal from DFID procurement which recognises the seriousness of our concerns about the supplier’s behaviour.
The problems identified by DFID through our own forensic investigation were fundamental and will not be solved with quick fixes.
We will closely monitor the steps being taken by ASI to restore confidence in their ability to adhere to the high standards of integrity that the public rightly expect of all our contractors.
The withdrawal by ASI is the result of serious concerns about the company’s behaviour:
- ASI employees sought to make use of improperly obtained DFID documents shared within ASI by a former member of DFID staff.
- The documents in question were draft internal DFID documents which contained information clearly confidential to the Department.
- The documents were nevertheless shared widely within ASI, including to senior personnel, in full knowledge that ASI should not have had access to the documents.
- This was done with a view to exploiting the material to ASI’s commercial advantage.
- At no point did ASI or any of its employees question this or raise concerns with DFID.
- DFID has conducted its own forensic investigation into these allegations. There have been serious questions over ASI’s ethical integrity. It is therefore right that ASI is taking action to address this.
UK support to South Sudan
In response to the declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan on Monday 20 February, Priti Patel announced on Wednesday 22 February new packages of UK aid for South Sudan and Somalia and called on the international community to step up as well.
The Guardian newspaper and The Times are suggesting that in the case of South Sudan, this is not new money and had already been reserved for the country.
Here is DFID’s response to those articles.
A DFID spokesperson said:
We have urgently pulled forward our support for South Sudan to ensure that more can happen now to meet the desperate humanitarian need. When famine strikes, speed is of the essence for people left to die from hunger which is exactly why we have had to act now.
The UK is the first major donor to respond to the UN’s appeal to South Sudan and confirming the scale of our humanitarian response gives our partners certainty so they can start delivering desperately needed help immediately.
Facts behind the headlines
This money was originally planned for 2017/18 and could have been allocated to a wide range of activities. Instead, we are allocating this all to our UN and NGO partners to start providing food, water, shelter and respond to emergency medical needs now and in the coming months.
DFID’s money just gets siphoned off by corrupt Government officials.
DFID does not give money to the Government of South Sudan. We work directly with the UN, NGOs and other partners.
Specifically which partners does DFID work with in South Sudan?
Due to the security situation in South Sudan, we do not disclose individual NGOs that we work with on the ground.
If you’ve pulled funding forward, you’ll be left with a gap in years to come?
This action will not undermine the UK’s long-term support to the crisis in South Sudan. DFID will address any future shortfall caused by bringing funding forward, but the priority is to get money to enable us to respond to the famine today.
Famine in South Sudan
Following the declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan yesterday (Monday 20 February) – the first famine in the world for six years – there has been widespread media coverage including by the BBC, ITV, Sky, Guardian, Times, Financial Times and the Independent highlighting the worsening humanitarian crisis.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
This is an urgent and severe crisis, with almost half the population in desperate need.
Almost 5 million face the daily threat of going without enough food and water and 3 million people have been forced from their homes because of ruthless violence and widespread use of rape.
The UK is ensuring millions of people in South Sudan get urgently needed food, water and medicine, as well as longer term support.
The UK will not look the other way while people of South Sudan suffer: the Government of South Sudan must put an end to ethnic violence, allow humanitarian access and deliver long-lasting peace.
The international community now needs to step up alongside Britain to stop famine spreading and help support stability in South Sudan and the region, which is firmly in all our interests.
To find out more about how UK aid is already helping in South Sudan, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/famine-in-south-sudan
CDC – The Government’s Development Finance Institution
Today (17 February 2017) the Mail has written a story about the potential rise in business rates in the UK, in which the newspaper claims that the development budget has been given to shopping malls and retail chains across the world through CDC.
What is CDC?
CDC is the UK’s and world’s oldest Development Finance Institution – making pioneering investments in the poorest and most fragile countries in order to open up the hardest to reach markets and create jobs and opportunities for the world’s poorest people.
Every penny of profit generated by CDC is reinvested – this makes every penny of UK taxpayers’ money go even further.
DFID has radically transformed CDC over the last 5 years to ensure their investments are targeted where they are needed most and have greatest impact for the world’s poorest. CDC uses its expertise to support over 1200 businesses in over 70 developing countries.
How does CDC help reduce poverty?
No country can defeat poverty and leave aid dependency behind without sustainable economic growth, jobs, trade and investment and CDC has been a cornerstone of the UK’s efforts to boost economic development and global prosperity for almost 70 years.
CDC delivers significant development impact while at the same time generating a financial return, every penny of which is re-invested. In 2015, the businesses that CDC invested in helped to create over one million new jobs, and over the past three years they have generated over $7 billion worth of local tax revenue, helping support improvements to public services like health and education.
Development investments via CDC complement our other work, and allow us to fight the scourge of poverty on all fronts. And their work is fundamentally about people: improving life prospects by helping individuals find work and earn money so they can feed their families and send their children to school; empowering girls and women to determine their own future; and giving people hope so they don’t feel pressures to migrate or turn to extremism.
The facts behind the article:
Today’s Mail article listed a subset of CDC investments completely out of context. It included seven that CDC has now completely or partially exited and 14 that were made more than 5 years ago.
Since 2012 all of CDC’s investments have been focused in developing countries in Africa and Asia - where 80% of the world’s poorest live - and where it can have the greatest impact for the world’s poorest and deliver value for money for UK taxpayers. This includes focusing on sectors with the potential to create the most jobs - such as infrastructure, agribusiness and financial services. This ensures CDC invest responsibly and transparently, create jobs and promote good governance.
Investments in retail and construction actually only represent around 2% of CDC’s portfolio. The retail and construction industry is a sector that creates large numbers of jobs that are typically open to the poorest people in developing countries.
A DFID spokesperson said:
We have radically transformed CDC to ensure their investments are targeted where they have greatest impact for the world’s poorest. In the last year alone CDC invested in businesses that have created over one million jobs across the poorest countries in South Asia and Africa.
Every penny of profit generated by CDC is reinvested – this makes every penny of UK taxpayers’ money go even further.
UK Family Planning Summit
Today’s (17 February 2017) Guardian features an article about the UK’s intention to host an international summit on family planning this year. Below are more details of the summit and what it will achieve.
Why do we need a summit?
Countries will not lift themselves out of poverty until women are able to decide for themselves whether and when they have children, and how many.
Huge progress has already been made, but there are still 225 million women around the world who do not want to get pregnant and are not currently using modern methods of family planning.
Voluntary family planning enables women and girls to complete their education and take up better economic opportunities: it transforms lives, creating more prosperous, stable societies, which is in the UK’s interest.
That is why International Development Secretary Priti Patel is stepping up the UK’s global leadership through an international summit on family planning in London this summer.
What will the summit achieve?
Together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UK will bring together leading figures, civil society and private sector to secure commitments that increase access to family planning services for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries, fix problems with supply chains and prioritise the needs of women and girls in humanitarian crises.
What has been achieved globally on family planning already?
The 2012 London Summit on Family Planning kick-started an international movement (FP2020) to increase investments in voluntary family planning. Since then, the FP2020 movement has driven considerable progress: by 2016, an unprecedented 300 million women in the world’s poorest countries were using voluntary modern contraception.
UK investments alone have resulted in nearly 7 million more women using safe, modern contraception and helped halve the price of a long-acting contraceptive implant, generating over £300 million in savings.
Clear progress has been made, but more needs to be done if we are to reach our global ambition of reaching an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
The UK is a global leader on family planning, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health.
Huge progress has already been made, but as there are still 225 million women around the world who do not want to get pregnant and are not currently using modern methods of family planning, I am pushing hard for more action globally.
That’s why the UK will host a major international summit to secure commitments that increase access to family planning services for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries, fix problems with supply chains and prioritise the needs of women and girls in humanitarian crises.
UKIP report on reducing foreign aid budget once the UK leaves the EU
Today’s (16 February 2017) Sun and Express cover a UKIP report which claims the UK’s exit from the EU should lead us to “scrap the foreign aid target” of spending 0.7% of GDP on international development.
In fact as we prepare to leave the EU it is more important than ever that all our resources are used to ensure we remain a power on the world stage. If we reduced our investment in international development we would find it harder to have:
- provided 3.3 million Syrian refugees with access to clean water
- saved thousands of lives by eradicating the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and preventing it spreading to other countries
- vaccinated over 67 million children to stop them dying of preventable diseases
- allowed 11.3 million children across the world go to school
- helped create over one million jobs across 70 developing countries
- enabled 162 million people to vote in freer, fairer and more democratic elections
We do not have to choose between supporting economic growth and providing humanitarian aid, the UK is already doing both.
We are securing trade agreements with developing nations, which will not only help end the need for aid in the long run, but also boost the interests of British businesses. At the same time, we are also helping the millions of people unfortunate enough to be afflicted by poverty, disease and conflict.
Tackling the root causes of global problems that affect us here. Take the example of Syria. We know that helping Syrians to stay in their home region means they are not forced to risk their lives by attempting the dangerous crossings into Europe. Or look at what happened with the terrible Ebola epidemic. By fighting the disease at source we were able to stop it spreading to our shores and taking British lives.
DFID responded to UKIP’s report with the following statement:
“The UK aid budget invests in our security and prosperity and is a key part of Global Britain’s international leadership as we leave the EU.
“All DFID programmes and partners are subject to rigorous checks and scrutiny to ensure we reach the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, while also achieving the best value for UK taxpayers.”
International Development Committee investigation into Adam Smith International
This morning’s media (12 February 2017) reported on the International Development Committee’s (IDC) investigation into allegations that Adam Smith International (ASI) falsified submissions about its work to the committee. Following the allegations, the Secretary of State commissioned a fundamental review into supplier practices and wrote to DFID’s suppliers reiterating the standards we expect of them and setting out the new safeguards we have put in place.
The IDC’s inquiry concluded that ASI had ‘acted improperly’ by submitting testimonials about its work from aid beneficiaries without making clear the extent of its involvement in those submissions and without making sure the beneficiaries were aware they were submitting evidence to a parliamentary committee. The IDC found no evidence that DFID commissioned, or was involved in, the preparation of the testimonials ASI submitted to the IDC.
DFID responded to the report as follows:
Like the committee, we are very concerned about the culture and behaviour of Adam Smith International.
DFID has conducted its own forensic investigation into the allegations that ASI falsified submissions to the IDC and made use of improperly obtained DFID documents for commercial gain.
Since these allegations came to light, we have frozen awards of new contracts to ASI and we are taking detailed advice on next steps.
National Audit Office report on DFID’s approach to tackling fraud
This morning’s media (9 February 2017) reported on the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on DFID’s approach to fraud.
The NAO rightly recognises that DFID has a zero tolerance approach to fraud, and acknowledges the comprehensive and strengthened measures DFID has in place to tackle and eliminate it.
International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, responded to the report as follows:
The UK operates in the most fragile countries because these are the places where the poorest are dying from starvation, drought and disease; these are the places where conflict and economic failure drive mass migration; and these are the countries where it is in the UK’s direct national interest to keep them stable and secure.
In the last 3 years DFID has overhauled its approach to fraud, meaning our robust systems are better at preventing and detecting fraud, and better at getting taxpayers’ money back. We expect all international agencies to have the same zero tolerance approach to fraud that we have if they are to receive taxpayers’ money.
It is time for the global aid community to be honest about the challenges it faces to increase the transparency and accountability of the international aid system.
Facts behind the headlines
You may have seen the reporting in today’s media (9 February 2017) of the National Audit Office’s report on DFID’s approach to fraud. Some of the headlines were misleading and inaccurate, and we would like to explain the truth behind them.
Britain loses £300m in foreign aid to fraud without noticing: The Times
It is factually wrong to say that DFID has lost £300 million to fraud. The NAO report itself stated that DFID lost £3.2 million to fraud, not £300 million. We have recovered two thirds of the £3.2 million.
The NAO report found that 0.03% of DFID’s aid spend is identified as fraudulent, which is in line with the level of reported fraud in other international development organisations. The report did not attempt to quantify the level of unreported fraud and so the £300m figure in The Times’ headline is an extrapolation based on fraud in other organisations. The article does not reflect that the NAO recognises that DFID’s counter fraud team has an established process in place for investigating the allegations of fraud that it receives.
As Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel stated in her response to the NAO report, DFID will not provide funding to any organisations who do not meet the same high standards concerning fraud. The NAO report highlights that DFID requires all of its partners to carry out investigations to the necessary standards when potential fraud is reported, and that DFID’s dedicated Counter Fraud team will also provide support.
Revealed: huge rise in foreign aid fraud but officials still only detect £3.2m of missing funds: The Telegraph
The NAO report recognises that DFID has a zero tolerance approach to fraud, and acknowledges the comprehensive and strengthened measures we have in place to increase the reporting of fraud, tackling and eliminate it. The rise in the number of fraud cases reported is due to DFID’s improved approach to identifying and stamping out the practice.
Number of fraud cases involving Britain’s foreign aid budget quadruples in 5 years since David Cameron set spending target: Daily Mail
The Daily Mail article claims that £1.1 billion has been channelled into the 20 most corrupt counties in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. In fact, DFID does not provide any direct funding to the top 20 most corrupt countries.
Giving aid to a country with high levels of corruption is not the same as giving aid to that country’s government. We ensure that our aid goes directly to poor people or to organizations that are working with poor people to reduce poverty.
The UK government is directing more funding to fragile and conflict affected states, including Syria and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, to address current crises, the root causes of migration, and the threats posed to the UK by the ongoing conflict, but that does not mean we’re prepared to lose taxpayers’ money to fraud.
Corruption and fraud in developing countries is a major factor perpetuating poverty and conflict. Rather than bypassing the challenge of systemic corruption, DFID is helping reform and address the underlying causes of poor governance in many different countries.
What is DFID doing to protect UK tax payers money against fraud?
DFID only works with organisations that have a strong track record of delivering humanitarian aid in difficult and dangerous places. We have rigorous controls to ensure that aid reaches those for whom it is intended and delivers results.
As acknowledged in the NAO report, all of our programmes are designed with a range of safeguards to mitigate the risk of fraud. We use monitoring visits, financial spot checks and forensic and strict independent audits to ensure all funding is used for the purpose it was intended.
DFID’s dedicated specialist Counter Fraud Unit investigates all allegations of fraud and always seeks to recover funds. The whistleblowing hotline and e-mail account – referenced on the DFID website, Development Tracker and in all our partner agreements, allows all allegations of fraud to be reported and investigated.
All DFID staff undertake mandatory training on fraud and on risk and control and we have fraud specialists across our country offices to advise staff and partners.
We work in partnership with a number of UK and international law enforcement agencies, such as the National Crime Agency and the Serious Fraud Office in the UK, and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in our multilateral partners to develop and enhance our intelligence information.
The Prosperity Fund
You may have read about the Prosperity Fund in this morning’s papers (8 February 2017).
This is a cross-government fund designed to create economic growth in middle-income countries, where more than 60% of the world’s poorest live, so they can stand on their own 2 feet and become our trading partners of the future.
The Prosperity Fund will provide expertise and technical assistance to promote economic reform and remove barriers to trade, tackle corruption, strengthen policy capacity and build strong, effective and accountable institutions.
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has just published a report on the Prosperity Fund. Here is the government’s response to it.
A UK government spokesman said:
Sustained economic growth is the only long term solution to poverty and the Prosperity Fund supports the vital economic development needed to help middle-income countries – where more than 60% of the world’s poorest live – to stand on their own 2 feet and become our trading partners of the future.
Overseas Development Assistance spend under the Fund is and will continue to be fully consistent with UK law under the International Development Act and OECD DAC criteria.
As ICAI acknowledge the Fund has made significant progress in a short time frame and we are already implementing the vast majority of ICAI’s early recommendations, including on transparency.
Why does the Prosperity Fund focus on countries like India and China?
- More than 60% of the world’s poor live in middle income countries such as China and India and it is vital that they have access to expertise and private sector investment to help the poorest people lift themselves out of poverty
- The UK ended its traditional bilateral aid programmes with China (March 2011) and India (Dec 2015). Instead UK relationships now focus on trade and investment, providing expertise to support economic growth and development and working on global issues in a mutually beneficial way
- India is a critical global economy. Supporting economic development will help global prosperity. This brings direct benefits from greater trade and investment opportunities – including for UK businesses. It is only right that UK companies should contribute to and share in that prosperity
How is it being delivered?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) embassies and high commissions play a key role identifying opportunities, developing project proposals and overseeing local delivery, working both at country and regional levels. Cross-government teams work with a wide range of UK business and civil society partners to help identify how the Fund can deliver the greatest added value
A cross government Ministerial Board, supported by a cross government Portfolio Board gives strategic direction and manages the overall portfolio. The governance of the Fund will help ensure full coherence with other cross government funds, including the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), Empowerment Fund and International Climate Fund
Overseas Development Assistance spend under the Fund is and will continue to be fully consistent with UK law under the International Development Act and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
What is each government department’s role in the programme?
The Department for International Development (DFID), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), HM Treasury (HMT), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for International Trade (DIT) are represented on the Portfolio Board and Ministerial Board. Each department can bid into the Fund to deliver programmes
The Prosperity Fund has been designed through a consultative process which draws in particular on DFID experience and expertise. Many elements of the Fund including the concept note and business case process and multi-year programming are modelled on DFID processes
The Prosperity Fund Management Office (PFMO) that administers the Fund is staffed from across government
Published: 7 February 2017
Updated: 14 August 2017
- Pakistan Cash Transfers – 14 August 2017
- New DFID in the news blog on UK support to Kenya.
- Updated with response to reporting on currency fluctuation adjustments
- Updated with further information about the launch of the Centre for Global Disaster Protection.
- Updated with response to NAO report on Managing the Official Development Assistance target on 18 July 2017.
- DFID response to media articles about staff performance-related pay
- International Development Secretary highlights UK's commitment to send emergency aid to Mosul
- Updated on 11 July with news of the London Family Planning Summit and new UK commitments
- Updated on 8 July to rebut inaccurate reporting in the UK media about the new London Centre for Global Disaster Protection.
- Trading partners of the future and next week's Family Planning Summit
- New post: DFID's efficiency review - 1 July 2017
- Updated on 22 June with story on new UK support to tackle the migration crisis in the Central Mediterranean.
- DFID ministerial appointments
- Updated with DFID response to Daily Mail on aid waste.
- Updated with note on DFID’s approach to tackling fraud re Times article dated 17 April 2017.
- Updated to include information on Christian refugees and UK aid in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
- Updated to include OECD report on global development statistics
- This document has been updated to include information on the threat of famine in Yemen
- Updated with response on Provisional UK ODA as a proportion of GNI.
- Response to media stories on DFID's use of Private Sector Contractors
- 3 April - Geothermal Energy story response.
- Response to IDC report on DFID’s allocation of resources
- Added humanitarian entry
- Updated with response to Daily Telegraph Climate Change article and Mail on Sunday and Daily Express stories relating to UK support for education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
- Updated to include response to ICAI review of the UK’s response to irregular migration in the central Mediterranean
- Article updated to include Defence of the development budget.
- Added repsonse to MSI
- Response to story about DFID staff travel costs
- DFID response to announcment of reform and restructure of Adam Smith International
- New entry
- Updated with statement from International Development Secretary Priti Patel on declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan.
- Updated to include response to news about CDC – The Government's Development Finance Institution
- Updated on 16/02/2017 with response to a UKIP report which claims the UK’s exit from the EU should lead us to “scrap the foreign aid target”
- Updated to include response to the International Development Committee investigation into Adam Smith International.
- Updated to include Facts Behind the Headlines for the National Audit Office's report on DFID's approach to fraud.
- This page has been updated to include a response to the National Audit Office report on DFID’s approach to tackling fraud.
- First published.