New update to ICAI information note on UK aid engagement with China

21 Jul 2021

The description of a 95% reduction to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) aid for programme delivery in China applies to only “a portion” of the government and FCDO’s overall aid spend engaging China, an update to the UK aid watchdog’s recent report about the UK’s aid partnership with China has found.

The update is an addendum to its information note on the UK’s aid engagement with China. The note was awaiting publication in April 2021 when the Foreign Secretary announced a 95% reduction to the FCDO’s “ODA [official development assistance] for programme delivery” in China in a Written Ministerial Statement.

ICAI was not provided with information about the reduction in advance so the watchdog could not report fully on the changes at the time. The scrutiny body instead committed to seek further information from the government and to provide an overview of its spending plans for aid with China during the current financial year.

ICAI found that the announced 95% reduction to “FCDO programme delivery” for 2021-22 applies to 35% of the FCDO’s 2021-22 aid spend engaging China and only 22% of the overall UK aid spend engaging China. The reduction announced in the Written Ministerial Statement comes entirely from ending the Prosperity Fund’s ODA budget for programming in China from 2021-22.

ICAI said changes to the remaining UK aid spend engaging China (which constituted 78% of the total in 2020-21) cannot yet be described, as relevant budget or expenditure figures were not provided. The watchdog confirmed it would continue to track emerging plans for UK aid engagement in China and report on any significant new developments.


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