CSR 2010: aid lower, jobs cut
The CSR statements for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID) show that overseas aid will grow over the next few years by 37% – but the vast majority of that increase will not come until the last possible minute to meet the UN aid target of 0.7%, which means that the coalition will spend less on overseas aid than the last government planned. But spending on administration (mostly staff numbers and salaries) will be reduced in both departments by 33% over the next four years – massive reductions in employment in both which will surely endanger the ability of both departments to meet their objectives.
It’s good news, as we have repeatedly said, that the coalition government plans to meet the commitment – consensual in the UK, but unlikely to be met in most other major industrialised countries – to raise overseas aid to 0.7% of GNI. However, as extensively trailled, the rise will be done at the last possible minute, in the target year of 2013/14. Until then, overseas aid will stay at the current 0.56% of GNI (the actual sum will rise if GNI increases, of course, so there may be more money, but not too much and not as much as the development community hoped. Labour had planned to increase aid more steadily, meaning that the Coalition will in fact be spending less on overseas aid than Labour planned, although they will reach the same annual level eventually.
The announcements made today by the FCO and DFID do not state how many jobs will go, and we know from the infamous Alexander memo that the coalition hopes that lower wages will mitigate job losses. But currently, the two departments employ 14,400 and 2,359 people respectively – so this could see staff reductions of nearly 5,000 and 800 in these departments. There is no indication, however, that the departments will do a third less than they do currently (productivity can be improved, of course, and part of DFID’s job is to give money away, so relaxing controls allows you to spend more with fewer employees).