In the first six months of the U.K.‘s new coalition government, the country’s direction on international development funding has been made crystal clear. “Value for money,” a watchword carried over from the Conservative Party manifesto, has been trumpeted at every opportunity by ministers and officials, together with an emphasis on greater transparency and accountability.
This month will see the first concrete evidence of how these policies will affect the non-governmental sector, as the first round of major funding decisions are finalized and a new fund, tightly targeted toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, is opened for bids. It is already clear that future funding will involve higher levels of competition and the closer monitoring of results than NGOs have been used to. Bids from outside the U.K. will be more actively encouraged.
The Department for International Development distributed almost 600 million pounds in grants to NGOs and other civil society organizations worldwide in the year that ended in April, according to the latest published figures. That represents some 15 percent of the U.K. government’s total 4 billion pound commitment to bilateral development aid. Those grants are administered both through DfID’s country offices in the developing world and through its central offices in London and East Kilbride, Scotland. More than 360 million pounds went to U.K.-based NGOs in 2009-2010, including for emergency humanitarian work.