This profile has been updated in March 2018.
Strategic priorities
  • The UK’s development strategy, ‘UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest’, 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 ensures that it allocates at least half of its budget to fragile states and regions. Its leadership emphasizes ‘Brexit-ready’ plans to use ODA more strongly to advance the UK’s trade interests.
  • The Bilateral Development Review (BDR) and Multilateral Development Review (MDR), both published in December 2016, play key roles in shaping the UK’s bilateral and multilateral approaches to allocating development funding.
Key opportunities
  • Given the UK’s emphasis on greater cross-government allocation of ODA, there may be increasing avenues to shape UK development efforts through engagement with actors outside of DFID, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).
  • Mordaunt has highlighted disability issues and announced the UK will host the Global Disability Summit in July 2018. This may present opportunities for organizations working in that field.
  • The UK has outlined new strategies for nutrition (October 2017) and education (January 2018), which may present opportunities for organizations that emphasize new focuses in those sectors, including teacher training and nutrition for pregnant women and children up to two years of age.

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

Outlook

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 in absolute terms is likely to continue to grow in line with the growth of the UK economy. Based on European Commission forecasts of the UK’s GNI, maintaining the 0.7% target would result in net ODA of approximately US$19.4 billion in 2018 (in 2016 prices), up from US$18.7 billion in 2017.  
  • 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 and private sector opportunities overseas. As a result, the proportion of ODA to be spent by departments other than the Department for International Development (DFID) could increase to 30% by the end of the current Spending Review period in 2020.

What will the UK’s ODA focus on?

  • The UK development strategy, ‘UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest’, focuses on fragile states and regions, on which DFID plans to spend at least half of its annual budget. DFID’s own data indicates it more than reached this target in the very first year of the new strategy, 2015 (which is also the most recent year for which such data is available). 
  • Support to the private sector in partner countries is poised to increase significantly following DFID’s October 2017 announcement that it will channel £703 million per year (about US$949 million) for five years through the CDC Group. State Secretary Penny Mordaunt has also emphasized ‘Brexit-ready’ plans to use ODA more strongly to advance the UK’s trade interests but has rejected the use of ‘tied aid’ to achieve this objective.
  • The Multilateral and Bilateral Development Reviews (both December 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 a November 2017 speech, Mordaunt announced that the UK will host the Global Disability Summit in July 2018. This issue is likely to become a priority in DFID given Mordaunt’s expression of interest in disability rights. Through the summit she intends to influence global leaders and technology companies to find new ways of supporting people with disabilities.
  • DFID published new strategies on global education (‘DFID Education Policy 2018: Get Children Learning’) and nutrition (Saving lives, investing in future generations and building prosperity – the UK’s Global Nutrition Position Paper’) in January 2018 and October 2017 respectively. Both strategies may provide opportunities to leverage more development resources for the priorities they outline, which include teacher training, education-system accountability, and nutrition efforts that emphasize the ‘1000-day window’ from conception to two years of age.
  • The UK’s emphasis on greater cross-government allocation of ODA may open opportunities to influence UK development efforts through actors outside of DFID, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Department for International Trade; the Department of Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy; and the National Health Service (NHS).