Update on ODA eligibility of funding for refugees in the UK

An update to our review assessing Official Development Assistance (ODA) spent on supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, following the passage of the Illegal Migration Act 2023.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 6 September 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 have published a further update to our rapid review of UK aid funding for refugees in the UK, following the passage of the Illegal Migration Act in July 2023.


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.

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, accounting for an estimated 29% of the aid budget in 2022.

The Illegal Migration Act 2023 bars most people arriving by irregular means from receiving asylum in the UK. The OECD Development Assistance Committee guidance on the use of aid states that refugee spending at home can only be recorded as Official Development Assistance (ODA) if it is used for humanitarian purposes and not any form of coercion.

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


Review publication

29 March 2023

Update to the review

25 April 2023

Government response

6 July 2023

Approach published for further update

8 August 2023

Evidence gathering


Further update publication

6 September 2023