Theresa May’s government is sticking by its massive foreign aid commitments despite funding crises in the Armed Forces, healthcare, and social care, and tens of thousands signing petitions to scrap it.
The Department for International Development (DfID) rejected an online petition signed by over 50,000 people so far, calling to scrap the target to spend at least 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on foreign aid, as it will see spending rise to £16 billion by 2020 and “could be better spent at home”.
(By contrast, struggling police forces in England and Wales have been allocated roughly £4 billion in Home Office grants for 2017/18, or roughly £7.3 billion including other funding sources.)
UK can't use aid budget to help British territories devastated by hurricane, looters and escaped prisoners run riot https://t.co/niP2e1MDkL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 14, 2017
“Our aid commitment – which is enshrined in law — increases Britain’s global influence and allows us to shape the world around us which is firmly in the UK’s national interest,” the government insisted.
“Investing less than one percent of our national income in aid is creating a safer, healthier and more prosperous world. it [sic] is firmly in the UK’s and humanity’s interests.”
These assertions seem questionable in light of a recent BBC Panorama investigation which indicated that part of the foreign aid budget has been funnelled to jihadists in Syria linked to al-Nusra, formerly a branch of al-Qaeda.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 5, 2017
The May administration’s response to this petition follows hot on the heels of backbench favourite Jacob Rees-Mogg hand-delivering an even bigger petition against foreign aid to Downing Street, signed by around 100,000 people.
“It was a petition of Daily Express readers who want to ensure the foreign aid budget is properly spent and are not in favour, as I’m not in favour, of the 0.7 per cent target,” he said.
“If the 0.7 per cent commitment were not met, the law requires that the Secretary of State makes a statement to Parliament … In current circumstances, it would not seem unreasonable for the Secretary of State to make such a statement on the basis that Her Majesty’s Government cannot be certain that all the money is being well spent.”
British Govt Consults Crime Agency on Oxfam Scandal as Ex-BBC Anchor Runs Defence for Aid Workers https://t.co/FJmeGp9zLn
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 14, 2018
The “current circumstances” the Somerset MP referred to centre on the growing scandal surrounding NGOs, in particular Oxfam, whose aid workers have been exposed for paying vulnerable women in disaster zones for sexual services.
Oxfam receives tens of millions of pounds from the British government to assist its work.