Department for International Aid staff are struggling to keep up with the foreign aid budget
With a pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid, the Department for International Development’s (DfID) budget has ballooned.
But staffing has failed to keep up with the budget increase prompting MPs to say the workforce had “fallen below what is required” to spend the cash effectively.
The International Development committee said: “We have become increasingly concerned about the lack of emphasis on strategy within DFID at an operational level. We urge DFID to set a clear strategic direction in all of its policy areas based on its evidence on what works and its objectives in that policy area.
The number of DFID staff has not kept pace with increases in its budget to achieve the 0.7 per cent target
International Development committee
“We are further concerned that DFID’s own capacity could be affecting the effectiveness of UK aid. The number of DFID staff has not kept pace with increases in its budget to achieve the 0.7 per cent target.”
MPs also called on International Development Secretary Priti Patel to publicise her foreign aid spending.
The committee said wasteful foreign aid spending is “minimal” but warned they "remain concerned" about the failure to put in place a strategy for overseas support cash and highlighted a lack of detail in plans for handing out the money.
MPs challenged Ms Patel to "lead the department in a way which displays the value for money and great impact of good UK aid spending".
It said: "While we commend and support the Secretary of State's focus on improving the quality of spending, we think that the level of wasteful spending in the department is minimal.
"We would urge the Secretary of State to ensure that assessments of what is and is not wasteful spending are based on evidence and robust reviews."
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MPs challenged Priti Patel to display value for money
Committee chairman Stephen Twigg said he was concerned over "a lack of strategic direction"
MPs said they found no evidence that poor spending was more of a problem at DfID than in other government departments and insisted the way cash was allocated was "effective".
Committee chairman Stephen Twigg said: "UK aid spending has allowed refugees fleeing the war in Syria to settle closer to home, and has provided support to help create jobs and livelihoods for those refugees, so that they did not have to make dangerous journeys across Europe.
"However, the department needs to publicise its good work to a wider audience. DfID decisions on the allocation of resources should be based on evidence.
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"We are particularly concerned that a lack of strategic direction is holding UK aid back.
"This is more important than ever, with increasing amounts of aid being spent by government departments other than DfID.
"The basis on which aid spending decisions across the Government are made needs to be clear.
"It is absolutely right that Government demonstrates that every penny is spent as effectively as possible."