PM announcement to merge DFID with the FCO will hurt world’s poorest

Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond the UK network for organisations working in international development said:

“Today’s announcement from the government couldn’t come at a worse time. We are facing the biggest global pandemic in our lifetime, and we need a globally respected, independent Department for International Development that has the relevant expertise to ensure Covid-19 is tackled worldwide, as well as a Secretary of State for International Development able to champion the needs of the world’s poorest people in our global response. Scrapping DfID now puts the international response to Covid-19 in jeopardy and, at a time when we need global co-operation, risks a resurgence of the disease both abroad and here in the UK.

But this isn’t just about Covid-19. Keeping an independent DfID is the best way to ensure aid is spent helping those most in need, delivers impact for the British taxpayer and remains untied to our political interests. Yet today, without any process or consultation, and against the recommendations of both independent aid scrutiny bodies as well as the UK’s development and humanitarian sector, the government has decided to put our aid budget in the hands of those with little expertise in global health systems, humanitarian response, and disease prevention and eradication.

Make no mistake, this decision will do nothing but hurt the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”


“We have heard glowing reviews of DFID’s work helping the world’s poorest, and it is clear that it stands head and shoulders above other ODA-spending departments.

“We are not convinced that all ODA programmes administered outside of DFID are properly targeted towards poverty reduction or the most vulnerable. Given the enormity of the UK’s aid budget, it is particularly shocking that transparency remains a huge problem that Government departments are failing to grapple.

“Work is currently paused on the Government’s Integrated Review as resources are rightly diverted to tackling coronavirus. When work does re-start, we urge Ministers to recognise DFID’s world-leading reputation, commit to its continuation as a standalone department and to get a grip on oversight for Government ODA.”

  • The Independent Commission for Aid Impact scrutinises UK aid spending, independently of government and reports to Parliament through the House of Commons International Development Committee or their ICAI Sub-Committee. Their June report, The current state of UK aid: A synthesis of ICAI findings from 2015 to 2019 warned that “the redistribution of the aid budget between departments has led to a growing focus on large middle-income countries, driven by security, climate change or economic goals, which risks a reduced focus on poverty and ‘leaving no one behind’”.
  • The National Audit Office (NAO) helps Parliament hold the government to account for the way it spends public money. In June 2019, the NAO report The effectiveness of Official Development Assistance expenditure warned that “widening ODA expenditure to other departments has increased risks to effectiveness” and “very few departments [except DFID] make public information about their ODA expenditure, such as the amounts for which they are responsible, the programmes this budget funds, or the impacts secured for this spending.”
  • Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
  • On the 16th December 2019, over 100 CEOs from charities of all sizes from across the UK urged the UK government not to turn its back on the world’s poorest people and called on the incoming government to retain DFID as a separate Whitehall department and keep the department’s Secretary of State:
  • For further information please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]