Update to ICAI’s rapid review examining UK aid spend on refugees in the UK

25 Apr 2023

The UK spent double the average of other donors supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, an update to a recent review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has noted.

The update supplements a rapid review published by the aid watchdog in March 2023, which examined the quality and value for money of UK aid spend on refugees in the UK, following the publication of new official statistics.

Under international aid rules, the first year of some of the costs associated with supporting refugees and asylum seekers who arrive in a donor country qualifies as official development assistance (ODA). This category of aid is referred to as ‘in-donor refugee costs’.

ICAI reports that official UK statistics confirm a steep rise in UK aid spend on in-donor refugee costs, from £1.1 billion in 2021 to £3.7 billion in 2022. While the UK’s total ODA budget increased to £12.8 billion in 2022, data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee shows that, when excluding in-donor refugee costs, total UK aid spend fell by 16.4% compared to 2021 – the largest drop of all DAC donors.

Furthermore, ICAI reports that, while almost all donors spent more of their aid on in-donor refugee costs in 2022, the UK spent double the average of other donor countries (28.9% compared to 14.4%).


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