The Former Chancellor Lord Lawson has spoken out against plans to tie future governments to spending commitments on foreign aid.
The Tory grandee said proposals to make all future administrations ‘gold plate’ Britain’s annual foreign aid budget would not help people in poor countries, the Express reports.
The suggestion is to enshrine in law the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on international development, even though the Department for International Development is struggling to spend all the money given to it by the Treasury, with the National Audit Office revealing Britain spent £60 million a day at the end of 2013 in a rush to spend its budget.
According to the official report, “the Department had to quickly add some activities to its 2013 plans but delay others set for 2014″ which in addition made it “more difficult to achieve value for money.”
The UK spent £11.4 billion or 0.72 per cent of GDP on foreign aid last year and with the growth in the British economy that is forecast to rise to £12.4 billion while the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement continues to grow, adding to our national debt and making it harder to balance the budget in future.
Lord Lawson said the commitment would “deprive future Governments of the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances” and “wrongly prioritises the amount spent rather than the results achieved”.
In a joint letter, Lord Lawson and Labour peer Lord Lipsey said the measure to gold plate the budget was “against both the national interest and the interests of poor countries”.
“It increases the risk that aid will have a corrosive effect on local political systems,” they wrote.
Another example of wasted money was a donation of £388 million given to a scheme aimed at improving Indian schools. DfID naturally hailed the project as a huge success, saying ‘Remarkable progress is being made’ and the project had helped ‘reduce the number of out-of-school children by five million since 2003’.
However, according to a report by the Indian government in May 2011, at least £70 million of the British grant had been lost or stolen, with funds allocated to schools that did not exist and a proportion going to buy private cars for officials.
There was little evidence the money was helping to improve schools since attendance both by pupils and teachers was so low, with the former Dean of Education at Delhi University said: “Enrolment is not equal to attendance.”
Professor Anil Sadgopal said: “I don’t know what the British mean when they said their free school project is “making remarkable progress”.”
A Department for International Development spokesman said: “UK aid goes only where it is most needed and where it will deliver the very best results.
“UK investment in international development is creating a world that is healthier, more stable and increasingly prosperous.”