​UK foreign aid spending ‘not fit for purpose’ – report

Reuters / Feisal Omar

Reuters / Feisal Omar

Britain’s foreign aid budget is growing at such a rate that ministers are “struggling” to use it properly, a new report suggests, as politicians are criticized for spending too much on overseas development.

The report, published
Thursday, warns that the Department for International Development
(DfID) would be unable to efficiently spend a 30 percent increase
in its budget, with some funds likely to go into unplanned or
underdeveloped projects.

The report was produced by the Independent Commission for Aid,
which said there was “limited evidence” that the increase in
capital made a tangible benefit to countries in need of
development aid.

The increase comes in real terms, as the Conservative-led
government maintains its pledge to ring-fence the foreign aid
budget to around 0.7 percent.

The ring-fence means the government spends around £3.4 billion in
the poorest countries, although much of this money is funneled
through NGO’s and private firms operating overseas.

The report says DfID’s plans are “not fit for purpose”
and that it needs to focus on “spending well, and not just

Taxpayers Alliance CEO Jonathan Isaby told the Mail Online that
the 0.7 percent ring fence was a mistake, which needed to be

“It is deeply depressing that British taxpayers’ money isn’t
delivering positive outcomes for the world’s poorest,”

“Ludicrous spending targets are making it almost impossible
to target aid in the right places, and clearly the department is
only just catching up to its responsibilities.”

Isaby also urged the government to “ditch arbitrary targets,
which do nothing to increase effectiveness of aid and encourage
spending above and beyond what the department is able to

While DfID has defended its budget, arguing the money is needed
for important infrastructure projects and to fund education for
marginal groups, critics of the department say aid money actually
benefits dictators and criminals, while also heightening
“tensions” among social groups.

READ MORE: Mandatory overseas aid law ‘bizarre’ – UK foreign

“The UK set ambitious targets in 2010 and we are now seeing
DfID said in response to the report.

“From supporting female provincial councilors in Afghanistan
to training government officials in districts liberated from Al
Shabaab in Somalia, our work in fragile states is improving
millions of lives and creating a safer world,”
they added.

Last month, DfID was criticized for its failure to scrutinize the
Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), an agency which
funds aid projects overseas.

The cross party Public Accounts Committee found nearly £20
million had been sent by the PIDG to a Nigerian company owned by
the notorious money launderer Jamies Ibori, and accused the
organization of failing to conduct background checks.

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