Last updated : November 2017. US$ amounts are shown in 2015 prices.
Strategic priorities
  • The UK’s ‘Aid Strategy’, published in late 2015, outlines four key priorities: 1) strengthening global security, 2) resilience and response to crisis, 3) promoting global prosperity, and 4) tackling extreme poverty. DFID aims to allocate half of its budget to fragile states and regions. It also plans to use ODA more strongly to advance the UK’s foreign trade interests.
  • The Multilateral Development Review (MDR) and Bilateral Development Review (BDR), both published in November 2016, play key roles in shaping the UK’s bilateral and multilateral approaches to allocating development funding. The MDR introduces new performance agreements with multilateral organizations, restricting a share of UK funding until these organizations meet pre-agreed performance targets. The BDR highlights priority areas for the UK’s bilateral cooperation, including security, migration, climate, and health, and work in fragile and conflict regions.
Key opportunities
  • DFID released its Civil Society Partnership Review in November 2016, which outlines four new mechanisms for funding civil society organizations (CSOs). The review proposes a move away from unrestricted core funding to a more competitive and results-focused funding model, with an expanded network of CSOs.
  • In January 2017, DFID published its first Economic Development Strategy. The strategy outlines five priority sectors for DFID’s work on promoting economic development: 1) infrastructure, energy and urban development, 2) agriculture, 3) exports, manufacturing, and services, 4) extractive industries, and 5) economic inclusion. This may provide opportunities to leverage more development resources for these priorities.

Key Questions

the big six

UK development assistance in Somalia, one of DFID's 28 priority countries, focuses on improving governance, the business environment, and access to healthcare, as well as providing humanitarian assistance

United Kingdom


How will the UK's ODA develop? — What will the UK's ODA focus on? —What are key opportunities for shaping the UK's development policy? read more

How will the UK’s ODA develop?

  • The UK government has pledged to continue to meet the UN target of spending 0.7% of its GNI on ODA. This means that ODA is likely to continue to grow in line with the growth of the UK economy.
  • The UK is increasingly diversifying its ODA channels through cross-government funds: the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund to support global security, the ODA crisis reserve to support resilience and crisis response, and the Prosperity Fund to promote economic growth overseas and private sector opportunities. As a result, the proportion of ODA to be spent by departments other than DFID could increase to 26% by FY2019/20.

What will the UK’s ODA focus on?

  • The UK Aid Strategy places a particular focus on fragile states and regions, on which DFID plans to spend at least half of its annual budget.
  • Former DFID Secretary of State, Priti Patel, pledged to ‘challenge and reform’ the global development assistance system with an approach based on ‘core conservative principles’, wealth creation, and developing countries’ needing more investment and trade. How these priorities will change under current DFID Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt, appointed in November 2017, is unclear.. However, the government is already moving to increase its support to the CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, focusing on the private sector. In November 2016, a draft bill by Parliament was issued stating that the funding limit for the CDC Group could see a fourfold increase, from £1.5 billion to £6 billion.
  • The Multilateral and Bilateral Development Reviews (both November 2016) offer insight into funding shifts and map out how ODA will be spent. According to the MDR, DFID plans to suspend or cut funding to multilateral organizations that do not meet pre-defined performance targets.

What are key opportunities in 2017 and 2018 for shaping the UK‘s development policy?

  • In February 2017, Priti Patel, announced that the UK will host the next international Family Planning Summit in July 2017. This provides an opportunity to advocate for increased resources for family planning programs.
  • In January 2017, Priti Patel released DFID’s first Economic Development Strategy, outlining how investing in economic development in developing countries will speed up national growth, trade, and industries. The strategy outlines the importance of global trade, job creation in fragile and conflict states, leveraging partnerships with businesses, tackling corruption, and mobilizing domestic resources. This presents an opportunity to engage with DFID and other UK development stakeholders to discuss approaches to implement the strategy in DFID’s partner countries.