skip to content

Cambridge Global Challenges


The Government has committed to spending increasing amounts of Official Development Assistance (ODA) outside the Department for International Development (DFID) claiming that this will engage other departments’ skills, expertise and networks.

But where DFID is respected worldwide as an accountable deliverer of aid, cross-government funds have been criticised for their lack of transparency, especially given the level of spending involved (£601m of ODA in 2016-17).

The situation is further complicated by the blend of ODA and non-ODA activities covered by the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF), where, as a result, large tranches of information are redacted for national security reasons.

Chair's comments:

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The role of cross-government funds has become increasingly prominent but the current arrangements for oversight leave gaps and the opportunity for a lack of coherence. Our Report raises concerns that some activities are being badged as ODA without a clear focus on poverty reduction. This lack of clarity risks undermining faith in UK aid.

Countries should not be selected to receive ODA via the CSSF funding based on security rationale alone. With a heavy emphasis on promoting UK trade, the Prosperity Fund risks losing the rightful focus on poverty reduction and is a step towards the return of tied aid. We recommend that existing programmes should be reviewed.

It is essential that the UK’s spending on aid underpins the reduction of poverty. Almost three quarters of the world’s poorest people live in middle income countries but it is unclear to us how some projects – especially those under the banner of the Prosperity Fund - benefit the very poorest, marginalised or most vulnerable communities.”

The cross-government Prosperity Fund in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the 2015 UK Aid Strategy was announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review


For further details of the Commons Select Committee report see the Parliament UK website.

Cambridge Global Challenges is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Funding Opportunities

Find out about open funding opportunities, pre-call announcements, responsive calls, studentships and awards relevant to the global...