UK aid under pressure: a synthesis of ICAI findings from 2019 to 2023

This review draws together findings from ICAI reports published between August 2019 and August 2023, to look at how the aid programme has performed during a period with numerous internal and external challenges.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 13 September 2023
  3. Type: Other
  4. Subject: Cross-cutting, UK aid trends
  5. Assessment: Unrated
  6. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton


The 2019-2023 period has been a challenging one for UK aid. There were emergency responses to a series of global crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the Ukraine war. In September 2020, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) were merged to create a single department, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). There have been frequent changes of ministerial and government priorities, and a series of budget reductions which had a significant impact on the aid programme.

This synthesis of findings over the last four years of the third ICAI Commission, supplemented by additional interviews and documentary analysis, aims to provide an overview of the state of UK aid. It concludes by looking ahead, setting out key elements that will need to be addressed as part of rebuilding the aid programme in a complex and dynamic global context. It includes an annex summarising the findings of all reviews and follow-up.