Costly Compassion: UK Foreign Aid Bill Up By 30 Per Cent In Five Years, Biggest Rise In EU

foreign aid

David Cameron’s pledge to spend 0.7 percent of GDP on foreign aid has seen the UK’s bill rise by 30 per cent since he became prime minister – a faster rate than any other EU country.

Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), commissioned for the Daily Mail, show the rise is almost double the German level and that Britain’s aid bill has increased from £9bn in 2010 to £11.6bn in 2014.

However, during the same period the total amount of aid handed out by OECD countries actually fell as most member nations struggled to cope with the financial crisis.

The only country to spend more on foreign aid is the United States, but they spend only double Britain’s level despite having five times the population. By contrast, France’s spending has fallen so much that it is now only half the UK’s level.

The only two countries that saw larger rises were Switzerland (35 per cent) and South Korea (38 per cent), however their total budgets are much smaller than Britain’s.

Britain now spends 76 per cent more on foreign aid than France and ten times as much as Spain, whose own budget dropped by a massive two thirds.

David Cameron has previously described Britain’s huge increase in foreign aid payments as his “proudest achievement”, saying: “I am proud of the fact that we have taken 0.7 per cent of this year’s GDP and given it to the poorest countries in the world.

“I think there are lots of countries, and lots of politicians as well – I could probably name them – who would have broken that promise.”

However some Conservative backbenchers worry that ring fencing foreign aid while cutting spending in other areas back home may look out-of-touch, especially as the UK struggles to meet its Nato commitment to spend two percent of GDP on defence.

Some also question whether aid money is really the best way to help the developing world. Peter Bone told the Prime Minister: “Trade, not aid, is the answer.”