Groups in China are being invited to apply for handouts from a £1.3billion fund
Overseas groups are being invited to apply for handouts from a £1.3billion fund and the British Embassy in Beijing suggests the cash could be used for a project “improving care in the community for elderly people in China”.
Critics have hit out at the Government offer of handing over aid cash to a country which is currently investing heavily in a space programme.
The Government said the money will be spent on improving growth in “emerging markets and middle-income countries” such as China, India and Mexico over five years.
But details of the foreign aid scheme emerged in a scathing report of the ‘Prosperity Fund’, which is part of the Government's overall commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.
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The Prosperity Fund is run by Government departments including the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.
The UK Embassy in Beijing has published policy guidelines for the fund and provides examples of how groups could spend the money on projects such as filmmaking, football and fashion marketing.
Diplomats also held a workshop to brief applicants on their funding applications.
This is despite the Department for International Development officially closing its funding programme to China in 2011.
Ministers have said it is “not justifiable” to send millions to the economic powerhouse which plans to put astronauts on the Moon by 2036.
I’m gobsmacked. This sounds straight out of Alice In Wonderland. We are not supposed to be sending additional aid money to China, so this should not be happening at all
MP Peter Bone
Tory MP Peter Bone said: “I’m gobsmacked. This sounds straight out of Alice In Wonderland. We are not supposed to be sending additional aid money to China, so this should not be happening at all.”
Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland said: “I’m proud of our commitment to aid but when we give cash to countries with space programmes we aren’t helping the poorest and we cut people’s confidence in aid.
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“We have a social care crisis here; we can’t fund care in the community yet we can pay for elderly care in China. It’s a joke.”
Foreign aid watchdog, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) which produced the critical report, also called on the Government to review the time scale for awarding funding.
The cash could be used for a project “improving care in the community for elderly people in China”
Alison Evans, ICAI's chief commissioner, said: "The Prosperity Fund is a complex and ambitious initiative, and marks a new direction for UK aid.
"It has made significant progress in a short space of time, but to deliver on its aims it must continue to improve its systems and processes, particularly given the risks associated with its current speed of delivery.
"We therefore recommend the Government reviews the current spending plans to ensure the amount of UK aid spent matches the Prosperity Fund's capacity to deliver the results for people in developing countries, and for business."
ICAI warned of a “serious risk” of the money being mis-spent with few details of where the cash will go and projects worth millions being approved at an “unprecedented rate”.
The watchdog raised concerns over the speed at which Whitehall was being expected to increase the spending – from £55million this year to £350m annually by 2019.
UK Foreign Aid: Where did it all go? Mon, January 16, 2017
Public mood changes following scandals over how the money is allocated. This is where the UK Foreign Aid was being spent in 2015.
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India = £150.4m
Oxfam's head of UK policy Tim Livesey said: "We are very concerned that the Prosperity Fund is failing to put poverty reduction front and centre of its work.
"The British public expects the UK's aid budget to be spent reducing poverty, and the fund should work harder to achieve this goal."
A Government spokesman defended the spending.
He said: "Sustained economic growth is the only long term solution to poverty and the Prosperity Fund supports the vital economic development needed to help middle-income countries, where more than 60 per cent of the world's poorest live, to stand on their own two feet and become our trading partners of the future.
"Overseas Development Assistance spend under the Fund is and will continue to be fully consistent with UK law under the International Development Act and OECD DAC criteria.
"As ICAI acknowledge, the Fund has made significant progress in a short time frame and we are already implementing the vast majority of ICAI's early recommendations, including on transparency."
MP Greg Mulholland called the Embassy's suggestion "a joke"
MP Peter Bone said he was "gobsmacked"
The report comes as social care for Britain’s elderly reaches breaking point.
University Hospitals Bristol NHS foundation trust apologised after Iris Sibley, 89, and her family were left "distressed and let down" after multiple attempts to move her into a nursing home failed, leaving her in isolation at the Bristol Royal Infirmary for six months.
When Ms Siblet was was deemed well enough to leave hospital following a fall at a care home, she was assessed by Bristol Community Health on behalf of the South Gloucestershire Care Commissioning Group, an NHS body that is responsible for local health care services.
They advised Mrs Sibley needed round-the-clock nursing care, and it took until January 4 to find a place in a home suitable for her medical and personal needs.
Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS foundation trust, said a formal investigation was under way.
"I'm very sorry for what happened to Mrs Sibley and apologise to her family for the massive frustration that all of us have caused.”
Inside China's Military Superpower Sun, February 5, 2017
An inside view of the Chinese military over 120 years.
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Armed police soldiers lift timbers during a drill on August 24, 2016 in Chongqing, China. As the highest temperatures reached over 40 degree Celsius at 5 districts in Chongqing, officers and soldiers of an armed police crop took outdoor training
Mr Woolley said there is a "critical interdependency" between social care and the NHS.
He said: "If we get the capacity wrong in social care, it's the NHS that bears the consequences. That is plain for all to see.”
The Department of Health said it had increased funding and published guidelines designed to improve co-ordination between the NHS and relevant bodies.
Mrs Sibley's case follows revelations that patients have faced discharge delays of more than year in Scotland.
One patient in Dumfries and Galloway was kept in hospital for 508 days despite being well enough to be discharged, figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed.
The woman, identified only as Barbara, was left to sit in her own urine with faeces smearing the walls of her freezing cold house as neighbours called for the authorities to intervene.
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