Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented government spending plans for 2015 / 16 and spending on overseas development was, again, one of the few budgets to be increased. As The Guardian reports, “Aid will rise significantly in the next few years as the coalition government meets the longstanding UN aid target of 0.7% of gross national income. According to Treasury documents released with the spending review, total UK aid will rise to £11.7bn in 2014-15 and £12.2bn in the following year.”

Why is this? ODA spending is not popular at home and very unpopular in parts of the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party. Earlier this year, we finalised a report on the Future of European Overseas Development Assistance in which we said that the PM had staked too much of his political prestige on growing the ODA to budget to turn back now. Instead, we suggested that the PM would seek to calm right-wing critics by

  • making British ODA more effective as a projection of soft power
  • seeking to use ODA money to pay for some some kinds of activities in other departments
  • getting more value for UK companies from the ODA budget (although, not as explicitly as countries such as the US with its “buy American” policy)

Our European ODA report was a joint undertaking by Baird’s CMC, our sister company, and four other European partners. Read the full report at www.europeanoda.com.