Effectiveness of UK development assistance called into question amid escalating quarrels between critics and supporters
The UK government’s decision to consider a potential merger between the Department for International Development (DFID) and its Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reignited the debate on the effectiveness of UK development assistance with critics and supporters both clamoring to be heard. A raft of highly critical articles in the Daily Mail and Daily Express newspapers make the case for radical reform of UK development assistance, claiming UK taxpayers' money is being wasted with funding going to corrupt or wealthy countries.
In contrast, supporters of UK development assistance -- representatives from UK NGOs, religious groups, and the current and some former international development ministers -- have highlighted the UK's successful track-record on development. They argue that maintaining DFID as a stand-alone department is necessary to ensure its expertise is retained.
Commentators expect the government to announce its decision on whether DFID might be merged with the FCO in February of 2020 after the UK has exited the European Union on January 31. The potential merger is being considered alongside a series of other potential reforms aimed at improving government delivery.