A paper released today by the UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit (PRU) concludes that while Britain is right to support the development of poorer countries, prioritising foreign aid payments over our own public services is not an effective use of public resources. The paper, Rethinking Aid, Freeing Trade, by Simon Gordon, recommends phasing out development aid and repealing the Act that commits UK aid spending to 0.7% of GNI.
Having broken down aid spending in some detail, Gordon has been able to demonstrate that a significant portion of the budget is not spent on either emergency or development aid; is abused to fund political advocacy which harms developing nations; and that Britain’s multi-lateral aid partners rack up huge administrative costs.
Moreover, Gordon notes that development aid has largely failed to relieve long-term poverty – a fact which calls the original basis for the 0.7% aid target into question. He says:
“Development aid has not proven to be an effective means by which to promote economic development in poorer countries. The economic assumptions behind the 0.7% target have proved inaccurate. In some cases, aid can arguably make matters worse by perpetuating poor government; limiting the potential for change in developing countries to come from within; and therefore perpetuating poverty. In some cases, aid payments even go to organisations acting in direct opposition to British foreign policy.”
The paper recommends reducing foreign aid to £2.5 billion per annum to enable allowing the UK to deliver emergency and humanitarian aid; contribute to disease eradication; and enable the government to increase spending on stretched public services here in the UK. Rethinking Aid, Freeing Trade also advocates pursuing free trade agreements with developing countries post Brexit, via minimal and simple tariff regimes, in contrast to the current and complex EU tariff regime which puts up barriers to trade; is highly protectionist; and tends to punish poorer countries for economic growth.
UKIP Foreign Aid Spokeswoman, Lisa Duffy says: “I welcome this research by the UKIP PRU. For too long, our government has prioritised ineffective aid spending over its basic obligations to British citizens. That has to change, not just so we can help those struggling in our own country, but so we can act in the best interests of developing nations too.
“As this paper shows, an increasing body of evidence suggests that more aid is not the best path to prosperity for developing countries, but that more trade is.
“Decades of development aid have failed to grow poorer economies, but post-Brexit free trade deals will. It’s time to ditch the out-dated 0.7% aid spending target; relieve global poverty with a hand up, not a hand out; make cutting trade barriers with the developing world a priority; and fill the funding gaps in our own public services.”