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

Our approach

In March 2023, ICAI published a rapid review, UK aid funding for refugees in the UK, followed by an update in April 2023 which incorporated new official statistics. Our review found that the ability of UK government departments to spend an unlimited proportion of the aid budget on the first-year costs of asylum seekers and refugees undermines incentives for longer term planning to reduce costs, risking poor value for money. ICAI made six recommendations to help the UK government improve the quality of aid spending on in-donor refugee costs and minimise the resulting disruption to UK aid. The government response to the review followed in July 2023.

Later that month, the Illegal Migration Act 2023 received royal assent. It contains provisions, among others, banning anyone arriving by irregular means from applying for asylum in the UK and allowing them to be detained and deported instead.

This further update to our review will examine what this legislation and resulting changes to which people can legally claim asylum mean for reporting refugee costs in the UK as Official Development Assistance (ODA), considering guidance from the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

Read the main review


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