Overseas aid department blows £1bn on contractors every year – report

Overseas aid department blows £1bn on contractors every year – report
Britain’s overseas aid department is scrutinizing its costs after the annual consultancy budget was revealed to have soared to £1 billion (US$1.25 billion), according to reports.

Analysis by the Times indicates that spending on private contractors by the Department for International Development (DfID) may have helped to as much as double spending since 2012.

The department was, for example, quoted £10,000 for a blog post and apparently paid £23,000 for a two-page policy report.

The paper also reports that celebrity speakers sent to a conference in Mexico cost £40,000, while elsewhere a bank and law firm split £1 million for advising a Nigerian state-owned investment fund.

The Times claims to have analysed more than 70,000 documents which cover £38 billion of spending between 2011 and 2015. It says £3.4 billion of that spending went on outside consultancy for the DfID.

A spokesman for the department, however, contested the claims.

"DfID is one of the most transparent development agencies in the world and we expect the sector to adhere to the highest standards to achieve the best results for the world’s poorest and value for money for the British taxpayer,” he said.

UK Aid has a life-changing impact on the ground, but DfID can and will do more. The department is examining how we can increase scrutiny of contractor spending because if we want to defeat poverty for good, we need to improve value and impact across the aid system,” the spokesman added.

In mid-November it emerged from a report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) that the UK also been quietly sending millions of pounds in aid to China.

An investigation set up to scrutinize aid payments found that the UK continues to spend £10 million a year on initiatives in China managed from the UK.

Although direct aid ended, as planned, in 2011, indirect aid has continued to fund 18 projects in health, agriculture, disaster management, water, forests, trade, mining, energy, conflict and security.

Indirect aid has also continued to India, including £30 million in “technical assistance” and £40 million for “development capital investment.” The UK has sent £283 million a year to India annually since 2011.