Caroline Boin is Project Director at the International Policy Network in London. Here she summarises some of the findings of a new IPN paper published today, Fake Aid: How foreign aid is being used to support the self-serving political activities of NGOs.
It appears the Labour Government has overseen even more cronyism and waste than we imagined. Over £1 billion of supposed “foreign aid” is channelled to UK-based organisations to spread government-endorsed ideology.
Many recipients are Labour-friendly groups like the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which has received £1.2m from the Department for International Development (DfID) to fund its own trade union campaigns and buffets in Westminster. And yes, this is part of the “foreign aid” budget that we all fund through taxes.
Published today by International Policy Network, the Fake Aid report details the shocking use of these budgets that didn’t even exist before 2000. This is entirely a Labour-induced use of taxpayers’ funds, but as well as holding Labour to account, we must demand to know how an incoming Conservative government would right these wrongs.
Andrew Mitchell’s shadow international development team has promised an Independent Aid Watchdog to scrutinise foreign aid spending and ensure that funds are allocated only when programmes are shown to alleviate poverty. It is vital that this is applied immediately and rigorously and that this body doesn’t just become another pointless quango.
DfID has been handing out unrestricted grants with no accountability, often handpicking its favourite charities. Even worse, performance measurement has been judged as poor by the National Audit Office and indeed, by DfID itself. But despite a lack of transparency and little evidence that the funds are doing good, DfID continues to up its grants.