A daft giveaway that feeds corruption

Published by The Mail on Sunday (29th November, 2015)

Every day, the British aid splurge becomes more absurd. Despite austerity at home, the sums donated abroad will double during David Cameron’s period as Prime Minister – from about £8 billion in 2010 to more than £16 billion by the next Election.

Yet, as even Chancellor George Osborne admitted last week, voters get very cross about public money being wasted abroad.

Their anger is intensified when they see taxes going up and services cut, only for billions to be frittered away on dodgy schemes abroad.

One poll earlier this month found a majority of voters wanted to see aid cut before services at home, as is happening in some other wealthy nations. Yet the Government is doing the exact opposite: cutting heavily at home, while increasing aid more than any other spending.

The sums spent abroad will keep rising as the economy grows, although numbers of very poor people on the planet are falling, thanks to capitalism and consumerism. Under a daft new law, Westminster must give away 0.7 per cent of national income to hit an outmoded United Nations target.

This means more money is being pumped into fragile states, where it fosters corruption, fuels conflict, funds despots and has been found to end up in the pockets of terrorists.

More cash goes to charities with bosses on six-figure salaries. And more funds are handed to private firms increasing pay and margins on the back of Britain’s aid boom. No wonder the ever-expanding poverty industry is so supportive of these policies.

Politicians should listen to Angus Deaton, the Scots-born professor and poverty expert recently awarded the Nobel prize for economics. He believes aid is largely an ‘illusion’ proclaimed by simplistic politicians and smug celebrities.

Deaton argues handouts are not needed when conditions for development are present – yet when they are not there, it can be corrosive to pour money into poorly run regimes.

But the great British aid giveaway carries on – while libraries are closed at home and social care for the old suffers for lack of funds.

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