No, this isn’t what they’re complaining about

The proportion of Britain’s £13.4bn aid budget spent by government ministries other than the Department for International Development rose by almost 50% last year, sparking concerns about transparency and poverty reduction.

Roughly a quarter of the aid budget, which met the 0.7% target set by the government, was spent by non-DfID departments, official figures show.

Aid organisations criticised the government’s increasing tendency to channel aid though non-DfID departments as “out of step with transparency and the focus on the poorest countries”.

The aid organisations have a pretty good lock on getting the funds that pass through DfID. They don’t on those which pass through other departments. That’s what’s being complained about, that’s “our £13.4 billion” and it’s not remaining their.

23 thoughts on “No, this isn’t what they’re complaining about”

  1. I’d like to complain about the waste of £13.4bn of our money on this bullshit.

    I propose Britain’s foreign aid compose of 3 parts, each allocated £1bn pa: clean water projects; 3rd world birth control and a fund for disaster assistance.

    More than generous, and useful.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’d give the money to the Copenhagen Consensus and shut down DfID. Win -win, we get to meet our foreign aid commitments and save on a bunch of bureaucrats and posturing politicians and keep it away from SJWs.

  3. I may be wrong but isn’t it the case that DfID have a budget which may represent less than 0.7% of GDP, and then retrospectively, the civil service go round classifying other expenditure by other departments as qualifying foreign aid expenditure in order to prove that in total 0.7% of GDP was indeed spent?

  4. @MC

    I propose Britain’s foreign aid compose of 3 parts, each allocated £1bn pa: clean water projects; 3rd world birth control and a fund for disaster assistance.

    An alternative I’d quite like – try to do a Big Thing that can be branded as The British Project. Something genuinely useful, that will generate some kudos. And coincidentally where most of the spending can actually be done in Britain where we can all keep tabs on it. There’s already been “using the Royal Navy to abolish the slave trade” but that one is wearing off a bit now (to be fair, having been a large economic participant in the slave trade beforehand doesn’t really help the cred on that one).

    For example, pick some horrible but ultimately, experts suspect, beatable disease. Let’s say malaria for the sake of argument. Then have a bloody good go at squelching it out across the globe. Have DfId replaced by a Department For The Eradication Of Malaria, with a Minister for The Eradication of Malaria. Endow some up-and-coming universities with serious biomed facilities, fund new teams/sub-departments at universities with good departments already, hire in or train up the brainiacs required.

    The research itself is going to take most of the funding and that funding can largely be directed right into the UK. Might be opportunities for the manufacture of vaccines, drugs, pesticides, other relevant equipment (mosquito nets for malaria or whatever) but make sure that it all gets the Union flag stamped on it if it’s us wot funded it. If we think the wonderdrug doesn’t have nasty toxic side-effects that’ll come back to bite the PR later, call it Britannizium (since Rulebritannium might be a bit too much to swallow).Use a mix of British and local teams during the implementation phase. Let absolutely nobody who is helped have a scintilla of doubt where said help is coming from.

    Even if the goal proves elusive or Britain doesn’t get all the plaudits, at least (a) it was clearly and indisputably an attempt at a Good Thing, (b) it ought to give a boost to one of our industries (biomedical) that we’re pinning a lots of hopes on for our long-term growth. Funding the Ethiopian Spice Girls, by contrast, doesn’t seem to pass either (a) or (b).

  5. I sometimes wonder at the pro-EU stance of FCO mandarins. The importance of the FCO has significantly deteriorated in recent decades and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this has been driven by a) the EU CFSP, and) successive British government’s attempts to sidestep this by funnelling the ordinary business of the FCO (bribing foreigners to buy British, or to not be beastly) through the Department of International Development – whose budget has expanded vastly.

    I assume the FCO wallahs think their playing a long game, so that even if being made British ambassador to Paris is now strictly meaningless, almost as much as being made British ambassador to anywhere else, at least they stand a chance of climbing the EU greasy pole, being some sort of cog in a much larger wheel. But the problem is that foreign policy has always been underpinned by military strength, of which the EU, despite its best efforts, has little or none, so this long game is, even if we Remained, a very long game indeed.

    On the other hand, Brexit does at least offer your FCO wallah the chance to become a British ambassador to Paris and for that to mean something once more.

  6. “our £13.4 billion” could usefully be rounded – to £0.4 billion, which could then usefully be rounded to £0.

    If there’s a pressing need to augment the wealth of third world dictators I can do it myself; no need for HMG to skim off its percentage.

  7. I hope the 450M going to the clerics to overlook the conviction of the wife of a Brit (who may or may not have given up the ghost) comes off that 0.7%.

  8. ” Britain’s £13.4bn aid budget” – this is an outright lie.
    It’s more like £30bn when you include aid and foreign remittances from the UK public voluntarily paid for out of their after-tax income.
    The purpose of the £13.4bn lie is to make people think that good things can only be done by government.

    As an aside, I notice that the Carter Foundation and Clinton Foundation are still getting 1mUSD a year each.

  9. @MBE
    See the Gates foundation and Polio. He’s also doing good work on birth control in the Third World. Who needs Governments.

  10. MBE,

    See the UK Government funded Global Challenge Research Fund, and its precursor (also still active) the Newton Fund. Basically the same logic, albeit on a less focussed scale.

    It may not be a surprise to find these were the brainchild of David Willetts as University minister, who managed to convince Cameron and Osborne that it was a smart move to invest a lot of our international aid money into projects that were not run by foreign governments (they help define priorities for funding and provide match funding), and at the same time boost research funding for UK universities.

  11. @Ian Reid

    Yep. If the aim of this stuff is really soft power / PR then it seems remiss for one (admittedly well funded) guy to grab more credit because of very focussed and identifiable work than one of the world’s largest economies exerting about 1% of its GDP on a litany of unfocussed projects.

    @Watchman

    Thanks, that’s the idea I was thinking of but didn’t know the name!

  12. MBE:
    “really soft power.”We really should be as sceptical about soft power as we are about paying for projects that claim to develop economies.
    Because some mandarin or wonk thinks xyz will enhance “our” reach “our” influence “our” values does that make it so? Say it does, though, does each dollar improve the life of the person who contributed it more than if he’d been allowed to keep his dollar? Very sceptical.

  13. @MC, November 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I’d like to complain about the waste of £13.4bn of our money on this bullshit.

    I propose Britain’s foreign aid compose of 3 parts, each allocated £1bn pa: clean water projects; 3rd world birth control and a fund for disaster assistance.

    More than generous, and useful.

    MC, I’d like to complain about you being generous with my and other taxpayers money.

    Disaster assistance is a maybe. However, appears to be covered by DEC charity whose ads are everywhere after ever disaster. Plus, there are a tens of thousands of charities world wide already doing disaster assistance.

    Close DFID & abolish Brown’s Gift-Aid.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I’d take every penny of it and spend it to try to resurrect the armed forces from their current disastrous condition. And I’d match it pound for pound with money not devoted to the next piss-it-down-the-drain increase in NHS funding. £27 billion wouldn’t fix the armed forces, but it might make them at least marginally capable of, say, defending the Falklands if the Argies decide to chance their arm again. Right now they’d be hard-pressed to retake Canvey Island.

  15. Why is the government borrowing money to give away? No sane person would borrow from their bank to fund a charity. It’s bizarre. Borrowing is postponed taxation. The cost of this absurd generosity will fall on future generations. Yet the politicians agree to it (a) because it offers endless grandstanding and (b) because the soggy-leftist electorate like it.

  16. @BiCR
    There’s certainly an argument for better funding of the armed forces, even though the MoD have frequently shown themselves to be world class at pissing away taxpayers’ money.

    But we really don’t need to worry about the Falklands. The problem in 1982 was a merely token garrison and no runway long enough to take long-distance transport aircraft – hence no way to reinforce them except over a period of months. Neither of these are an issue today.

    And the Argentine armed forces have lost capability even faster than our own.

  17. Galtieri’s initial invasion was successful, for the reasons stated. He gambled that we couldn’t put together a task force and poke the occupiers out – he lost (but narrowly, it could all have gone horribly wrong).

    But it would be obvious to the greenest cadet that an attempted invasion now would be suicidal. BTW it appears the Argies have misplaced one of their 3 subs – let’s hope the crew are OK, but it isn’t looking good for them.

  18. @ Bongo
    The money donated by individuals, including myself, goes to things that we think are worthwhile and are at least as justifiable as a pint in the pub at lunchtime on Sunday. Most of mine goes to projects supervised by friends or friends of friends so unlikely to end up in the pockets of cronies of Mugabe etc.
    Cameron was well-meaning but naive when he announced the 0.7% target for Overseas Aid.

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