Today’s Daily Express front page refers to a “‘cover-up’ of how taxpayers’ money is spent”. This claim and other claims made in the article are incorrect and misleading.
The suggestion of a ‘cover-up’ – which has no source – refers to guidance written by the Department for International Development (DFID) and HM Treasury (HMT) on how government departments can ensure they achieve value for money with the development budget.
The Express states this document has remained “confidential”, meaning taxpayers do not know how Official Development Assistance (ODA) is spent.
This is wrong.
DFID is one of the most transparent and scrutinised aid bodies in the world. We publish detailed information about all our programmes, right down to the business cases and progress reviews – and these are available online for any UK citizen to see.
Every year a full breakdown of every penny DFID spends is published in the Statistics on International Development, which the Express themselves have used a source for many of their articles.
The reference made to value-for-money guidance relates to internal advice which has been distributed to all government departments who use the development budget. This is internal guidance, the results of which are easily seen in our transparency data. There is no ‘cover-up’ whatsoever. Like all public spending, ODA must meet the high standards set by the Managing Public Money guidance, which can be viewed online.
In addition to this guidance, the government has introduced robust monitoring, governance and oversight arrangements to ensure value for money, including through an ODA Senior Officials Group, which reports to Ministers.
Alongside this work, DFID provides advice and tailored training to other government departments. This includes specific advice and training to support government departments to meet their transparency commitments, deliver the best results and achieve value for money.
In response to the article, a DFID spokesman said:
DFID is absolutely committed to spending every single penny wisely and each government department which uses the development budget has guidance to ensure they are delivering maximum value for money.
While every department is responsible for ensuring that their spend meets the highest standards, DFID works with them to instil best practice and achieve the very best results for the world’s poorest and the UK taxpayer.