Management of the 0.7% ODA spending target

The government’s approach to managing its aid-spending target has become increasingly effective and well-coordinated across government – but making the process more flexible in future could reduce the “significant” impact of major economic shocks.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 24 November 2020
  3. Type: Rapid review
  4. Subject: Government processes and systems
  5. Assessment: Unrated
  6. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton

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We published our rapid review of how the government manages the 0.7% spending target in November 2020. We later published a supplementary review looking at the government’s management of the spending target during 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve followed up on the government’s progress implementing our recommendations for both reviews. Find out more on the ‘Further scrutiny‘ tab.


The UK is one of only a handful of donors that has met the international target of spending 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA), and one of only two to have enshrined that commitment in law. With ODA being spent by many departments, and GNI and elements of the UK’s large and complex aid expenditure difficult to predict each year, this presents a considerable managerial challenge.

This rapid review explores how well the UK government manages the ODA spending target. It assesses cross-government coordination, and the role played by the former Department for International Development (DFID) as ‘spender or saver of last resort’, required to adjust its expenditure up or down in each calendar year to prevent any shortfall or overspend. The review covers the period since 2013, when the UK first achieved the target, to 2019. However, it does not assess whether the target itself is an appropriate one, as this is a matter of government policy and, since 2015, a legislative requirement.



Published 20 August 2020

Evidence gathering



Published 24 November 2020

Government response

Published 22 January 2021

ICAI follow-up

Published 30 June 2022

Further follow-up

Published 18 July 2023