Say what you will about David Cameron, but for a government bent on slashing domestic spending across the board, having ring-fenced DFID’s Overseas Development Aid budget for protection takes real guts.
But it’s not the “how much”; it’s the “what on”. DFID is moving in a decidedly Boring direction: tripling the portion of aid that goes to private sector development over the next three years. The move includes direct investments into companies carrying out projects with high development impact, which is the sort of thing we really need to see more of.
DFID’s budget is still not quite up to the (probably never realistic for big countries) 0.7% of GDP ODA budget, but at 0.56% it’s within spitting distance. Just as important, that number grew even through the recent, long, harrowing recession.
With more of a bigger budget moving into increasingly boring areas, I think we can give Duncan Green a clear answer: yes, the British development bubble is a good thing.