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 government has pledged to continue to meet the 0.7% target, leading to ODA increases in absolute terms in line with the UK economy. Based on European Commission forecasts of the UK’s GNI, increases would result in net ODA of around US$19.4 billion in 2018 (in 2016 prices), up from US$18.4 billion in 2017.  
  • The UK increasingly diversifies its ODA channels through cross-government funds: the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund to support global security, the ODA crisis reserve to support crisis response, and the Prosperity Fund to promote economic growth and the private sector. As a result, the proportion of ODA spent by departments other than DFID could increase to 30% by the end of the current Spending Review period (2020).

What will the UK’s ODA focus on?

  • The UK development strategy 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 first year of the strategy, 2015 (most recent year for which such data is available). 
  • Support to the private sector in partner countries is poised to increase significantly: In October 2017, DFID announced it will channel £703 million per year (US$949 million) for five years through the CDC Group. State Secretary Penny Mordaunt also emphasized plans to use ODA more strongly to advance the UK’s trade interests.
  • The Multilateral and Bilateral Development Reviews (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 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 for DFID given Mordaunt’s expression of interest in disability rights.
  • DFID’s new strategies on global education and nutrition (January 2018 and October 2017) may provide opportunities to leverage more development resources for the priorities they outline (e.g., teacher training, education-system accountability, and nutrition efforts that emphasize the ‘1000-day window’).
  • The UK’s emphasis on greater cross-government 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.