Should the UK cut its foreign aid budget?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
The UK is one of the most generous nations when it comes to foreign aid, spending billions of pounds each year.
Some would argue, however, that the money would be better off spent closer to home.
Should Britain cut the money they send on overseas development?
The Daily Express brands the UK's foreign aid budget as "madness", in particular referring to the money sent to China. They report that taxpayers in the UK are "footing the bill for a £2 million road safety project" to help stop traffic problems in the "superpower".
James Roberts, political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told the Express that the project was a "waste of money".
He said: “These revelations of how boffins are spending aid money will drive Brits up the wall.
“Splashing taxpayer cash setting up traffic ‘simulator facilities’ in China, with all these silly PC conditions attached, is a complete waste of money and won’t make a lick of a difference.”
The Express has previously campaigned against foreign aid, arguing that the UK government should spend the billions that are sent overseas on the NHS and other departments closer to home.
However, Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, argues in the Guardian that foreign aid is "vital". She discusses how much UK aid is making a real difference, especially in Indonesia following the earthquake and tsunami towards the end of last year.
She calls the UK a "compassionate nation", rallying to the cause and being generous with both its time and money.
Ms Mordaunt writes: "Even when humanitarian crises are not in the news it is striving to make the world a better, more prosperous, safer and fairer world. This is not only a win for developing countries, but a win for the UK, which can only prosper in such a world."
She adds: "This is where UK aid is doing what it does best – saving and changing lives – both in the immediate aftermath of disasters and longer term.
"The world looks to Britain at times like this. We should be proud that we are bringing hope around the world in times of dire need."
For every £100 that’s made in the UK, 70p goes towards foreign aid, according to Full Fact. In other words, the government's target for overseas development aid every year is 0.7 per cent of the UK's Gross National Income.
Britain was the only member of the G7 to meet the 0.7 per cent target (set by the United Nations) last year. In 2017, the UK contributed £13.9 billion in foreign aid - up from £13.4 billion in the previous year.
By 2021, the country could be spending about £14.5 billion on foreign aid, based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts.
Foreign aid spending has been ringfenced from years of austerity cuts after being enshrined into law by the coalition government in 2015.
The only western countries more generous than the UK with foreign aid (by proportion of their economies) are Sweden (1.01 per cent), Luxembourg (one per cent), Norway (0.99 per cent) and Denmark (0.72 per cent).
The UK frequently donates the second largest foreign aid in terms of volume, only beaten by the United States who donate around £25 billion (although this only makes up around 0.18 per cent of the country's national income).