In his first major speech as Development Secretary, Mr Mitchell said he had taken the key steps towards creating an independent aid watchdog to ensure value for money. He also announced a new UK Aid Transparency Guarantee to ensure that full information on all DFID’s spending is published on the departmental website.
The information will also be made available to the people who benefit from aid funding: communities and families living in the world’s poorest countries.
These moves come as part of a wider drive to refocus DFID’s work so British taxpayers’ money is spent transparently and on key priority issues such as maternal mortality and disease prevention.
In Mr Mitchell’s speech, delivered at the Royal Society with Oxfam and Policy Exchange, he argued that overseas aid is both morally right and in Britain’s national interest but that taxpayers need to see more evidence their money is being spent well.
Andrew Mitchell said:
“We need a fundamental change of direction – we need to focus on results and outcomes, not just inputs. Aid spending decisions should be made on the basis of evidence, not guesswork. That is why we have taken the first steps towards creating a new independent aid watchdog.Andrew Mitchell highlighted the results of well-spent aid, saying:
“The UK Aid Transparency Guarantee will also help to create a million independent aid watchdogs – people around the world who can see where aid money is supposed to be going – and shout if it doesn’t get there.”
“Development is good for our economy, our safety, our health, our future. It is, quite simply, tremendous value for money: the best return on investment that you’ll find anywhere in government.And he gave this pledge to UK taxpayers:
“British aid pays for five million children in developing countries to go to primary school every day. That’s roughly the same number as go to primary school in Britain yet it costs only 2.5 per cent of what we spend here. That’s real value for money.”
“To the British taxpayer I say this: our aim is to spend every penny of every pound of your money wisely and well. We want to squeeze every last ounce of value from it. We owe you that.
“And I promise you as well that in future, when it comes to international development, we will want to see hard evidence of the impact your money makes. Not just dense and impenetrable budget lines but clear evidence of real effect.”