UK aid is facing an unprecedented attack from a combination of intense press criticism and rightwing Tory MPs emboldened by the Brexit vote who scent the blood of another of their “pet hates”. The future of the Department for International Development (DfID) as a standalone department and the commitment that the UK will spend 0.7% of gross national income on development is now under serious threat.
It is urgent that those who believe global leadership under successive Labour and Tory governments on aid and development is morally right and in the national interest find their voice before it is too late. A joint campaign involving all political parties, NGOs, faith groups and the public is necessary to ensure that the consensus built over two decades prevails under strident opposition.
In the past year, the government has moved vast amounts of development funding from DfID, with 25% now spent via other departments. The bill currently going through parliament would allow billions to be spent through CDC, the government’s controversial private equity company – an organisation with a track record of using tax havens and supporting middle-income countries rather than the poorest. The fate of the 15% of our aid currently spent through the European Union is uncertain.
There is real concern that diminished transparency could lead to spending on programmes not focused on poverty reduction. This represents a serious threat to DfID’s status as a standalone department…