Independent review of UK’s Newton Fund criticizes poor design and weak oversight

The Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), the UK’s external foreign assistance watchdog, has reviewed the UK Government’s £735 million (US$946 million) Newton Fund and found it poorly designed to promote international development.

The Newton Fund is funded through the UK's development assistance budget and focuses on the use of science and innovation partnerships to promote economic development and social welfare of partner countries.

While the review praised the Fund for its innovative research partnerships with developing countries, it found that the Fund's secondary objectives of building ties with partner countries like China, India, Brazil, and South Africa have too often been the main driver of its work at the expense of its main goal, which is to promote international development.

The review was also critical of the fact that 90% of UK funds delivered through the Newton Fund stays in the UK, which constitutes a form of tied assistance. Citing weak oversight mechanisms and poor transparency, the report also called the accountability of the Fund into question.

ICAI – Review of the Newton Fund