As the Department of International Development (DFID) merges with the Foreign Commonwealth (FCO), UK aid is at a crossroads. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy will also result in us spending less on UK aid in 2020. The newly formed Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) will have an opportunity to prioritise aid programmes which deliver value for money. It is important that whoever spends aid, it is focused on ending extreme poverty and is spent effectively and transparently.

The Real Aid Index 2020 assesses each UK Department that spends more than £50 million of aid and their top 3-5 programmes, against the principles set out in the ONE Campaign’s Real Aid Charter. We hope that the Real Aid Index will highlight best practice across all departments, and also encourage those that are not currently meeting the standards to identify what they can do to improve, to ensure that every pound of UK aid delivers maximum benefit to the world’s poorest people.

Find out what the Real Aid Index tells us about the UK’s future approach to international development.

Government departments


Government Departments


Learn more about the Real Aid Index

Six government departments and 2 cross government funds spend more than £50 million in ODA each year. The Real Aid Index is an assessment of how well these departments and the top 3-5 aid programmes that they manage are aligned with the Real Aid Charter. We measure the departments and programmes against the 3 core principles of the Real Aid Charter; poverty focus, effectiveness and transparency. We then give the departments and programmes a green (strong), amber (moderate) and red (weak) rating.

Download a summary of the results (PDF)

Download methodology and questions (PDF)

Download descriptions of programmes – Annex (PDF)

Overview of our indicators

Poverty Focus

The aims and objectives of the department and programme should focus on policies and instruments that directly address poverty eradication. The most relevant policies include pro-poorest growth, social services, social protection, and tackling conflict and climate change.

Departments and programmes must demonstrate that their aims are clearly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and ‘leave no one behind’ agenda. Departments and programmes must have gender equality as a principal or a significant policy objective.

We propose that 50% of a department’s budget should be aimed at programmes in the poorest countries (as that is where the need is greatest) or tackle global challenges such as climate change.


Tying aid to the goods and services of the donor country is illegal in the UK. Aid contracts should be open to all and have no nationality restrictions.

Programmes and departments must demonstrate evidence of consultation with local actors. It is important to have country ownership in order to achieve long-term development results.

Setting clear goals and then monitoring whether these have been achieved in order to evaluate them, is important to ensure the effectiveness of development projects and programmes.


In line with the UK Aid Strategy, all departments have committed to achieve a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in Publish What You Fund’s (PWYF) Aid Transparency Index by 2020. We have used PWYF UK Aid Transparency scores in our Index. In line with PWYF’s assessment, we have not given the Conflict Stability and Security Fund or the Prosperity Fund a transparency score. For more information on PWYF UK Aid Transparency Index, please visit