Britain handed over £14bn in taxpayer cash to developing nations in 2016
Britain gave the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) $18.01 billion (£14.4 billion) to aid international development in 2016, accounting for nearly 13 percent of the group’s budget. The Committee’s total spending last year came to $142.6 billion (£114 billion).
Net aid from the 29 members of the DAC also set a record high last year, but the latest OECD report shows that much of that money was spent on supporting refugees already in Europe.
Some countries were found to have spent more than 20 percent of their annual official development assistance (ODA) budget domestically. Migrants coming into Europe cost Germany alone $24.7 billion (£19.8 billion).
“Supporting refugees arriving in Europe is absolutely the right thing to do, and something we as Europeans should be proud of,” said Amy Dodd, chair of CONCORD, a European confederation of relief and development of NGOs.
“But counting in-donor refugee costs as aid – money spent in the donor country which never reaches a developing country – is of questionable development impact at best, and certainly an attempt to artificially inflate countries’ aid figures,” she said.
Britain gave almost one in every eight dollars spent in overseas aid, following the world’s largest donors, the United States and Germany. It was also one of only six nations that met the United Nations’ target, contributing 0.7 percent or more of their gross national income to ODA.
“The 0.7 is a measure of how much [gross national income] is each year and it’s an arbitrary figure. We should be spending based on what people need,” said Taxpayers’ Alliance research director Alex Wild.
Critics of foreign aid and its cost to British taxpayers have claimed that hundreds of millions of pounds are lost to fraud every year.
Last year, the Times exposed how the salaries of foreign aid consultants had risen to astronomical heights, with the employees of some contractors making up to £279,000 ($348,000) a year.
The OECD itself has expressed concern over how foreign aid funds are spent, with its secretary general, Angel Gurria, arguing this week that committee members “must pay close attention to where the money is going and what is being included in foreign aid.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted in December that the legal ringfence around foreign aid could soon be scrapped.
“At times of global instability, it’s more important than ever for us to be outward looking and engaged,” a government spokesman said on Wednesday, after the OECD figures were revealed.