UK aid to refugees in the UK

A review assessing UK aid spent on supporting refugees and asylum seekers within the UK between 2015 and 2022.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 29 March 2023
  3. Type: Rapid review
  4. Subject: Refugees and displacement
  5. Location: UK
  6. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  7. SDGs covered:Reduced inequalities, Gender equality

Latest news

We published our rapid review looking at aid funding for refugees in the UK. We have also produced an update to our review, following the publication of new official aid statistics. The government published its response in July 2023. We published our follow-up report in April 2024.


The use of international aid to fund expenses related to hosting refugees and asylum seekers within donor countries – referred to as ‘in-donor refugee support’ – has become a significant part of aid spending, amounting to billions of dollars globally every year.

In-donor refugee support costs have risen sharply in the UK since 2014 and made up more than 8% of all UK aid in 2021 – approximately £891 million. A further large increase in this type of spend is expected in 2022.

There is no cap on how much of the UK aid budget can be spent on in-donor refugee support. The mechanism for calculating the proportion of costs that can be counted as aid was not reduced when the aid spending target was reduced to 0.5% gross national income. As such this spending has continued to increase, unaffected by the budget reductions imposed across most of the UK’s aid programming. It is therefore important that ICAI scrutinises this significant and growing proportion of UK aid.

Sustainable Development Goals

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

  • Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality



Published 10 November 2022

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 29 March 2023

Update to the review

Published 25 April 2023

Government response

Published 6 July 2023

Further scrutiny

Follow-up published 10 April 2024