Government aid spending plans criticised by World Development Movement

Press release, 28.02.2011

  • Government aid spending plans criticised by World Development Movement
  • Government accused of fighting terrorism, instead of poverty, with the aid budget
  • 0.7 target only reached through double counting of aid and climate money

The Department for International Development will tomorrow announce changes to the way aid money is spent. Aid for ‘fragile’ states will be a priority, as will maximum value for money and the UK's national interests. It will also cut aid to UN agencies that support agricultural development in favour of emergency relief programmes. The news has been met with criticism from anti-poverty campaigners, the World Development Movement who criticised the government for 'fighting terrorism, not poverty, with the aid budget'.

Julian Oram, head of campaigns and policy at the World Development Movement said:

Defence spending has been cut and it's clear that the government is looking to plug the hole by raiding the already tiny international development budget. The government will be fighting terrorism, not poverty, with the aid budget. This is shameful because aid is supposed to help provide health care and education to the poorest countries in the world, not bolster the UK's military operations or tackle the threat of terrorism in countries that the UK deems a security risk."

The World Development Movement also condemns the reintroduction of the controversial policy of imposing conditions on aid. For example, DfID has said that increased aid to Yemen is contingent on reform of its economy, which is a practice heavily criticised by campaigners as it usually involves privatisation and cuts to public services, such as health and education spending which increase inequality.

The government has recommitted to meeting its aid target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income by 2013. But it has been pointed out that the aid budget will be frozen until 2012, requiring an increase of approximately £3 billion in 2012-13.

On the slashing food aid funding, Julian Oram continued:

Food prices are at a record level and the news that the UK could slash food aid funding is deeply worrying. People are going hungry and children are falling ill and dropping out of school because of higher food prices. The UK should be tackling financial speculation on food prices and increasing support to small scale farmers, who produce most of the world's food, rather than relying on emergency rations when people are beginning to starve."

On aid double accounting, Julian Oram said:

The only way that the government can claim it's on track to meet its 0.7% aid budget is through some highly dubious accountancy tricks. The same money is being counted separately as 'aid' money and as 'climate' money - but it cannot buy both medicine and flood barriers. And disgracefully, 70% of the UK's climate aid finance is being provided as loans, which will lock developing countries into debt and poverty."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The World Development Movement has also criticised the fact that the aid review took place with very little transparency or participation from the public.

The World Development Movement took the government to court over the Pergau Dam affair where UK aid money for Malaysia was used as a 'sweetner' for arms contracts for UK companies. It was a landmark case which ensured that future aid couldn’t be used as a political tool regardless of the development benefits or lack of them.