By Daniel Martin
Last updated 28th February 2011
The inquiry was ordered by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell
Britain is to stop giving aid to 16 countries after a review found they were no longer in poverty.
Countries including Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Moldova and Serbia will be stripped of millions of pounds a year, following an inquiry ordered by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.
But in a controversial decision, aid to India – which can afford its own space programme – will continue, although it will be frozen at its current level of £280million a year for four years.
The aid budget will actually increase by £4billion in the next four years. Vast amounts of extra money – 30 per cent of the budget – will be pumped into unstable hotspots such as Yemen and Somalia, to help them crack down on terrorism.
Critics will question whether that is prudent, as there will be no way for Britain to check whether the money is being spent wisely, or being embezzled by officials.
Britain’s aid budget is one of the few areas protected from cuts, unlike defence, education and the police, which are having to make deep savings.
The total spent on aid will rise from £7billion to £11billion by 2015 – at the same time as front-line public services at home are being slashed.
Mr Mitchell admitted many of his constituents ‘go ballistic’ about the amount of British cash spent on overseas aid at a time of belt-tightening at home. But Mr Mitchell, whose review reports later this week, said the plan was to ‘buy results’ rather than ‘lob money at problems’ – setting targets and stopping aid if they are not met.
He is also likely to order the removal of funding from international organisations which have not delivered. For example, the £12million given to UN cultural body Unesco is likely to be axed.
Political unrest in Yemen: 30 per cent of the entire aid budget will be pumped into unstable terrorist hotspots such as Yemen and Somalia, in a bid to help them to crack down on citizens exporting violence
‘From now on we will only give aid where we can follow the money and ensure that the British taxpayer is getting value for money,’ he said. ‘Most international organisations are doing a decent job but some need to be shown the yellow card. Others will, frankly, get the bullet.
‘It’s the mission of my department to focus ruthlessly on results, on delivering 100p of development value for every hard-earned pound of taxpayers’ money.
‘If one of my constituents is watching television and hears these announcements, particularly now, they go ballistic because they think about how the money could be spent here.
‘But if you determine it by results, about how you’re going to get 200,000 children cleaner water, people are up for that.’
Mr Mitchell will also announce the first ‘cash-on-delivery’ aid scheme in the world, with a plan to get more Ethiopian girls into school.
He said: ‘We will only release funds once firm evidence of results has been seen.’
Defending the huge amount spent on international aid at a time of stringency at home, he added: ‘The reason why at this time of a dreadful economic inheritance, we made it clear that we won’t balance the books at the expense of the poorest people in the world, is because it is morally right to do so.
‘It’s part of the British DNA to be there for those in desperate straits.
‘But it’s also very much in our national interest to tackle these effects of dysfunctionality and poverty, such as piracy, migration, terrorism and disease in Somalia. Tackling the causes of poverty upstream is much less expensive than sending in troops.’
Resources will be concentrated on the 27 countries that account for three-quarters of the world’s maternal mortality and malaria deaths, such as Ghana and Afghanistan.
The UN children’s charity Unicef will see its UK funding double to £40million. But the UN Food And Agriculture Organisation and Unesco will lose out.