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Could Brexit allow the UK to scrap its foreign aid target?
In a new research paper published today, Ukip’s parliamentary resource unit have pored over the Government’s multi-billion yearly spend on overseas development aid (ODA).
In 2015, £12.1billion of UK taxpayers’ cash was splurged on foreign aid as part of the Government’s legal commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) in other countries.
But Ukip claim large parts of the spending was handed to untracked organisations, dished out in middle-income countries such as Pakistan, and much of the money put at risk of misspending and corruption.
The paper recommends a complete overhaul of Britain’s foreign aid programme with the repeal of the 0.7 per cent target, a reduction in the aid budget to just £2.5billion a year and the phasing out of non-humanitarian aid spending.
Instead, the opportunities presented to the UK by untangling itself from the EU should allow post-Brexit Britain to use free trade as a more effective means of promoting economic growth in developing countries, the report adds.
Commenting on the party’s research, Ukip’s foreign aid spokeswoman Lisa Duffy said: “For too long, our Government has prioritised ineffective aid spending over its basic obligations to British citizens.
“That has to change, not just so we can help those struggling in our own country, but so we can act in the best interests of developing nations too.
“As this paper shows, an increasing body of evidence suggests that more aid is not the best path to prosperity for developing countries, but that more trade is.
“Decades of development aid have failed to grow poorer economies, but post-Brexit free trade deals will.
“It’s time to ditch the outdated 0.7 per cent aid spending target; relieve global poverty with a hand up, not a hand out; make cutting trade barriers with the developing world a priority; and fill the funding gaps in our own public services.”
Ukip’s foreign aid spokeswoman Lisa Duffy called for trade not aid
Decades of development aid have failed to grow poorer economies, but post-Brexit free trade deals will.
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Ukip’s foreign aid spokeswoman Lisa Duffy
Titled ‘Rethinking aid, freeing trade’, the Ukip research paper criticises much of the Government’s spend on non-humanitarian aid rather than the cash spent on emergency response funds, reconstruction relief and disaster prevention.
The paper recommends a vast reduction in the foreign aid budget to allow the UK to continue to deliver emergency and humanitarian aid – as well as carry on contributing to disease eradication programmes – but also enable the Government to boost spending on UK public services.
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has already called for the foreign aid budget to be slashed in order to boost NHS funding.
The report claims some non-humanitarian aid spending funds organisations working counter to the UK’s foreign policy aims, other programmes would be better described as lobbying efforts and, on occasions, aid cash being ineffective or even counterproductive.
Insisting there is “virtually no correlation between aid and economic growth”, Ukip call for the UK to use the opportunities provided by Brexit to “overhaul trade policy to benefit the developing world”.
The report states: “Post-Brexit, Britain can make development easier through free trade.
“Protectionist trade policies by the EU restrict exports from poor countries, thereby hindering economic growth.
“Leaving both the EU single market and the EU customs union will enable Britain to liberalise trade policy and open up markets to produce from the developing world.
“Ukip has long been committed to a policy of trade, not aid. Brexit allows that policy to become a reality.”
But a Government source hit back at the “amateur” report and insisted Ukip are proposing to “save the lives of the poorest” without giving them the opportunity to do so in their own countries.
The source claimed scrapping foreign aid projects focussed on jobs and education in developing nations was the “biggest pro-mass migration policy out there”, while International Development Secretary Priti Patel's ongoing overhaul of her department is ensuring taxpayers' money is being spent in the UK national interest.
They told Express.co.uk: “This report is poorly thought out and shows Ukip’s amateur attempt at analysing the issue.”
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
The report’s author Simon Gordon said: “Development aid has not proven to be an effective means by which to promote economic development in poorer countries.
“The economic assumptions behind the 0.7 per cent target have proved inaccurate.
“In some cases, aid can arguably make matters worse by perpetuating poor government; limiting the potential for change in developing countries to come from within; and therefore perpetuating poverty.
“In some cases, aid payments even go to organisations acting in direct opposition to British foreign policy.”
A Department for International Development (DfID) spokesperson said: “The UK aid budget invests in our security and prosperity and is a key part of Global Britain’s international leadership as we leave the EU.
“All DfID programmes and partners are subject to rigorous checks and scrutiny to ensure we reach the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, while also achieving the best value for UK taxpayers.”