The use of UK aid to enhance mutual prosperity

The government is increasingly spending foreign aid in areas where it can deliver benefits to both the UK economy and countries eligible for aid – but care must be taken to ensure the primary aim of poverty reduction isn’t diluted or lost.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 23 October 2019
  3. Type: Information note
  4. Subject: Cross-government aid spend
  5. Assessment: Unrated
  6. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  7. SDGs covered:Zero hunger

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We published our information note on the use of UK aid to enhance mutual prosperity in October 2019 and identified six lines of enquiry.


In recent policy statements, the UK government has signalled its intention to use UK aid to generate economic and commercial benefits both for recipient countries and for the UK – in short, to enhance mutual prosperity.

So far, there is limited information in the public domain about how the UK’s approach to spending aid is changing because of the mutual prosperity agenda. This lack of information has contributed to concerns that the agenda may involve a loss of focus on poverty reduction or even a return to past practices of tying aid (providing aid on the condition that it be used to procure goods or services from the UK).

This information note provides a descriptive first look at the mutual prosperity agenda and how the UK aid programme is shifting in response to it. It does not reach evaluative conclusions on whether particular interventions are relevant or effective, but it does highlight issues that merit future exploration. We do not focus on other areas of mutual benefit, for instance national security, public health threats or global public goods such as climate change.

Mutual prosperity blog

Our chief commissioner Dr Tamsyn Barton wrote a blog on the use of UK aid to enhance mutual prosperity following a panel discussion we hosted after our information note was published.


Read the blog

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero hunger



Published 25 June 2019

Evidence gathering


Information note publication

Published 23 October 2019