Priti Patel hits out at £12bn Foreign Aid ‘spending spree’

Priti Patel MP - ETCA President

Priti Patel MP – ETCA President

Erith & Thamesmead Conservative Association President, Priti Patel MP, is abandoning the UK’s rigid commitment to spend a fixed percentage of the country’s national income on overseas aid each year – in a victory for The Mail on Sunday’s long-running campaign. In a dramatic U-turn, the International Development Secretary has told aides she will ignore the legal requirement to spend 0.7 per cent of national income if it means authorising corrupt or wasteful projects. Ms Patel, who was appointed to the post by Theresa May in July, has been shocked to discover that officials have been recommending projects on the grounds that they would help her Department for International Development (DFID) hit it £12 billion spending target.

Now Priti has decided that, while not formally revoking the ‘0.7’, she will under spend her budget if it is in taxpayers’ interests to do so – and then explain her actions to the Commons. The ETCA President aims to increase the proportion of her budget spent on other Government departments from 13 per cent now to closer to a third by 2020.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is supporting moves to use DFID money to ease the pressure on his own budget, and in particular to help in stabilising Afghanistan when the final British troops leave the country next year.

Mr Fallon has been alarmed by predictions that a fresh deterioration in the security situation there could lead to more than three million Afghans fleeing the country to seek asylum in Europe. The DFID last week committed to spending £750 million on support for Afghanistan over the next three years. Although overseas development rules bar aid money from being channelled to troops engaged in combat, it can be used to fund peacekeeping operations.

On Friday, Priti used a visit to America to urge the World Bank to focus its aid spending – to which the UK is the largest contributor, giving more than £3 billion last year – more on ‘countries who need it most’, rather than developed nations such as Brazil, India and China. The World Bank spent more than £14 billion in the past year on aid to upper and middle-income nations.

Last week, the ETCA President told the Conservative Party conference that she would scrutinise every pound of British aid to make sure that foreign projects were ‘mutually beneficial’. She said: ‘When we open up budgets and let people see where the money is going, we can help root out corruption and ensure that resources reach the most vulnerable.’

Content from the Daily Mail Newspaper