The U.K. Department for International Development is averting the risk of inefficiently spending its rising budget through a “significant increase” in front-line staff, a new report by the House of Commons’ International Development Committee reveals.
“While declining as a share of total costs, running costs will increase in real terms over the next four years because the total budget will rise so much. The increase in running costs, together with the reduction in administration costs, will allow DfID to recruit 300 to 400 more front-line staff,” the report notes.
The increase in front-line staff numbers will require DfID to hire people who can work with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defense, are able to work in fragile states, and have previous experience with multilateral institutions, according to the report.
Critics feared that saving money by cutting administrative costs could be detrimental to the department’s efficiency.
DfID previously committed to reduce its running costs to 2 percent of total spending by 2015, with the agency’s foreign aid budget exempted from cuts outlined by the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s spending review. Its budget will rise to 11.5 billion pounds (USD18.5 billion) over the next four years to meet the target of allocating 0.7 percent of national income to development spending by 2013.
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However, Simon Maxwell, a senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute, raised concern on how DfID will recruit these additional front-line staff members.
“Cynically, my guess is that there will be some re-labelling of staff, from admin to front-line, but I have no evidence for this. Instead, the evidence to the IDC was all about renting out floors of DfID’s headquarters in Palace Street, and saving on human resources and communications staff. DfID has even cut the number of Directors General and Directors,” he writes in his blog.
Maxwell adds: “Out-sourcing also turns out to be part of the solution, with technical assistance contracts being used to deliver services to developing countries.”
DfID spending on fragile states will increase from 1.8 billion pounds in 2010 to 3.8 billion pounds in 2014-2015. The committee said in its report that it plans to hold an inquiry into fragile states since “[i]t will be difficult to ensure that every pound is spent in such war-torn environments [and] the greater focus on fragile states is likely to lead to reduced aid to some countries with good governance where aid may be able to achieve more.”
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