Spending on foreign aid will outstrip the amount of money given to local councils in the UK for the first time next year, according to official government estimates.
The Treasury’s Budget book shows that spending on international development will hit £9.3 billion in 2017/18, while spending on local government for services such as rubbish collection, street lighting and local services will be £8.2 billion.
The Telegraph reports that critics are questioning whether spending a “shedload of taxpayers’ money” on foreign aid is fair when councils are tightening their belts as they feel the effects of budget cuts.
Only the United States spends more per capita on foreign aid than Britain, and questions have been raised as its effectiveness, with complaints that much of it is misused.
Last year, it was revealed that aid staff were being paid up to £1,000 a day in order for the government to meet its arbitrary spending target on foreign aid.
The British government is committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid, with the vast majority going to the Department for International Development (Dfid), which redirects it to various agencies.
One such project that received British funding was a Sub-Saharan African pop group dubbed the “Ethiopian Spice Girls“, who had received at least £4 million to fund a radio soap opera aimed at young girls.
The project was highlighted as an example of wasteful spending, however, after the Independent Commission on Aid Impact ruled Dfid “does not have sufficient independent evidence on the effectiveness” of the project.
Commenting on the latest figures, Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth said: “We are at the point of facing a real crisis in local government where absolutely essential services, such as care for the elderly, are under massive pressure.
“By contrast Dfid is awash with cash and struggling to find ways of pushing this vast shedload of taxpayers’ money out of the door.
“Politics is about priorities. Surely after all the austerity we need to show the British people that we’ve got out priories right? The priority must be to look after the vulnerable citizens at home and to strengthen our defences in the face of very dangerous turbulent world out there.”