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Spending data

The FCDO’s overall budget, like that of all Government departments, is set at Spending Reviews. This gives an overall spending limit, but it is up to individual departments to determine how they then spend this.

Information on the FCDO’s spending on diplomacy can be found in the department’s Annual Report and Accounts. The most recent edition, published in September 2021, includes accounts going back to 2016/17. These give figures for the FCDO’s level of spending on “operating costs, frontline diplomacy and overseas network”, as shown in the table below.

 FCDO spending on diplomacy and operating costs

Source: FCDO annual report and accounts 2020 to 2021, annex C core tables, 22 September 2021

These figures do not distinguish between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development in the years before they were merged in September 2020, so they will also include the operating costs of the latter department.

The data show that spending on operating costs, frontline diplomacy and the overseas network has made up 7-12% of the FCDO’s total budget every year between 2016/17 and 2020/21, and that this proportion was planned to rise to 17% in 2021/22. The amount spent on this area was set to rise to £1.8 billion even as overall spending on the FCDO was decreasing (as part of the overall reduction in aid spending).

Some spending on diplomacy can be funded from the overseas aid budget. Figures from the FCDO’s Statistics on International Development publication show that FCDO aid spending on diplomacy was around £278 million in 2020, up slightly from £276 million the year before.

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