UK can now send foreign aid to disaster-hit British overseas territories, says OECD

Posted On: 
1st November 2017

The Government will be able to spend its £13bn foreign aid budget on British overseas territories hit by humanitarian crises, after changes to international rules agreed in Paris.

The UK can now send aid to countries hit by catastrophes such as Hurricane Irma
Credit: 
PA Images

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ruled that aid could be used for “short-term” help to wealthier countries – such as the UK’s Caribbean territories.

The move comes after Hurricane Irma devastated much of the region, although ministers could not donate £50m as part of the UK's 0.7% of GDP aid target under current rules.

Priti Patel to challenge aid chiefs over Hurricane Irma rules

Britain cannot use £13bn aid fund to help victims of Hurricane Irma - report

Theresa May: Government has acted 'swiftly' to help Hurricane Irma victims

Theresa May was said to have been “frustrated” by the ruling last month, while International Development Secretary Priti Patel urged the OECD to mount a rethink at the body’s two-day summit of the Development Assistance Committee.

However Ms Patel hailed the recent move as a “real step forward” and a sign of “clear support from the head of the OECD” for the UK’s efforts to help regions overwhelmed by such catastrophes.

She said:  “As a result of our influence, we’ve made huge progress on ensuring official development assistance can be used when vulnerable nations are struck by crises or natural disasters.

The OECD said it would “establish a process” to study “short-term financing mechanisms”.

The Development Assistance Committee said: "The DAC, will, in consultation with relevant stakeholders establish a process to examine short-term term financing mechanisms available to respond to catastrophic humanitarian crises in recently graduated HICs.

“Including, without prejudice, a possible role for ODA spending based on objective criteria while ensuring no diversion of resources from existing ODA recipients."

The committee also agreed to increase the amount of spending on United Nations peacekeeping missions that can be classed as aid from 7% to 15%.

It also confirmed that 85% of British funding to the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank will count as aid.