The 14 Words

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

UK: Foreign aid bill to rise by £1BILLION

George Osborne (right) is poised to approve a £1billion increase in foreign aid to meet the Government’s controversial spending target.

The Chancellor has cheered Tory backbenchers in recent years by repeatedly cutting the foreign aid budget to ensure it does not exceed David Cameron’s pledge to devote 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income to the issue.

But better than expected growth figures mean that when he makes his Autumn Statement on the economy on Thursday, Mr Osborne is facing the prospect of having to increase foreign aid in order to hit the spending threshold.

The money involved is expected to total around £1billion over the next five years, although the Chancellor is understood to have avoided the need to provide extra cash in this financial year.

The move will fuel criticism that the ‘arbitrary’ aid target is more about political posturing than saving lives.

In August it emerged that Nigeria, which will receive £1.14billion in foreign aid from Britain over the five years of the Coalition, is spending millions to put a man in space. The oil-rich country is also mired in corruption. Estimates suggest between £2.5 and £5billion is stolen from the state’s coffers every year by corrupt officials and politicians.

Britain is also spending about £280million a year on aid to India, another country with its own space programme.

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