Foreign aid waste of money?

Is the UK giving away too much?

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How much does the UK spend on foreign aid?

UK foreign aid is divided into two categories - bilateral and multilateral.

Multilateral aid is that given to organisations such as the United Nations which then determine how it will be spent.

Bilateral aid is money allocated to a specific country or programme either directly or through multilateral organisations. The donor country decides how this money is spent.

In 2015 the UK spent £12.23 billion on foreign aid, 62.9% of which was bilateral.

The UK spent the most foreign aid on Pakistan in 2015, while UK foreign aid to India rounded off the top 10 at £150.4 million.

The UK is one of only six countries who met the UN-defined goal of spending 0.7%, the others being the Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden.

Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel said her objective in her new role will be to “challenge and change the global aid system” so it properly serves the world’s poorest people while delivering value for money for taxpayers.

“I will ask the tough questions and provide a fresh pair of eyes,” she pledged.

Multi billionaire Bill Gates is concerned for the future of foreign aid, according to The Spectator.

For years, the UK government has been one of the world’s largest donors in overseas aid, and about £60 million has been given to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates was in Britain last week to confront various arguments against aid — starting with the idea that global capitalism is now doing the job, with poverty falling at the fastest rate in history.

He is a famously successful capitalist (worth $86 billion) who has set up the world’s largest charity (with a $40 billion endowment) which prides itself on using private sector rigour. It’s a formula that persuaded Warren Buffett to pledge $30 billion, which Mr Gates hailed as the most ‘anyone ever gave anybody for anything’. But philanthropy accounts for less than five per cent of international aid, he says, so if governments don’t keep spending, no one will fill the gap.

Writing in The Guardian, Labour's Diane Abbott said: "The ugly arguments against foreign aid that are currently surfacing in the tabloid press are rooted in xenophobia, toxic little Englander sentiment and ignorance.

"I have just returned from an eye-opening trip to Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. There a region-wide drought is in danger of turning into a famine. Without more and speedier international intervention thousands of people could die. If the writers of some of the rubbish that I have read about aid recently had stood with me in a camp where starving families have walked miles for food and water, they might wish to reconsider whether one of the richest countries in the world should not be helping the millions who are literally the wretched of the earth."

Jonathan Isaby, co-editor of, argues: "Money is still tight both for families across the UK and for central and local government. Politicians keep on telling us about the 'tough choices' they are having to make about what they can and can’t afford. There is, rightly, a compulsion to deliver better value everywhere that they are spending hard-earned taxpayers’ money.

"Well, not quite everywhere. Because as belts have been tightened across most of Whitehall, the spending taps in the Department for International Development have well and truly been left on. The department has not only been immune from the discipline of delivering better value from its existing budget, but its budget is now about 40% bigger than it was in 2010.

"The reason for this hike is the government’s insistence on spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid – an arbitrary figure that bears no relation to what the government seeks to achieve in this area. It has even enshrined this target in law, though quite what the sanction is for breaking the law, goodness alone knows.

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