Britain increasing foreign aid to booming China and oil-rich Nigeria, despite vows to stop financing world’s second largest economy
- Britain is handing out yet more foreign aid to China and Nigeria
- £46.9million was handed to China last year, up £2.6million on the previous year
- £319million to Nigeria, which is rich enough to afford its own space programme
- The spending comes as public services in Britain are crying out for cash
Britain is giving ever-increasing amounts of foreign aid to booming China and oil-rich Nigeria, accounts have revealed.
Despite vows to stop financing the world’s second largest economy, £46.9million was handed to China last year – up £2.6million on the previous year.
And some £319.6million was given to Nigeria, which is rich enough to afford its own space programme. This is up more than a fifth on the £262.7million given the year before, the Government report showed.
Meanwhile, Britain gave £92.6million to India – which also has its own space mission – despite promises by ministers to stop funding the fast-growing country.
The spending comes as public services in Britain are crying out for cash.
Many town halls say they don’t have enough money to deal with the social care crisis. Schools and care homes are also desperate for increased Government spending, while Theresa May has promised to find an extra £20billion for the NHS.
Last night, MPs demanded a ‘root-and-branch’ reform of aid spending and a fresh review of Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.
The report from the Department for International Development (DfID) showed that while the department had stopped its aid programme to China in 2011, other Whitehall ministries continue to hand over large sums. These amounts contribute towards the 0.7 per cent target. Of the £46.9million handed over last year, 56 per cent came from the business department and 27 per cent from the Foreign Office.
UK-funded schemes included a schools programme to encourage children to consume less salt, and improving dementia care in the port city of Qingdao. Britain has also underwritten a European scheme to help China plant trees to compensate for its contribution to global warming.
Campaigners have been asking why the UK is still funding competitors whose economies are racing ahead.
Only yesterday the Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo – valued at double the entire British aid budget of £13.9billion – was floated on the New York stock exchange.
As the app debuted on the Nasdaq, its share prices soared by 35 per cent, giving the company a value of £26billion.
China is so wealthy that it has its own aid programme. The superpower also spends millions on new airports and urban development.
James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Time and again we have been told by politicians across Whitehall that the unjustifiable sending of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash to countries with space programmes and larger economies than our own would stop. But it hasn’t. This is completely unacceptable and tantamount to lying.’
Meanwhile, Britain’s aid grants to oil-rich Nigeria have come in for criticism. Three years ago it was reported that the west African country paid nearly 24,000 salaries to non-existent government workers.
The country’s space programme spent millions buying three satellites and plans to send a man into space by 2030.
A study of one £230million British aid programme to boost schools in Nigeria found it had produced ‘no major improvement in pupil learning’. Researchers found teachers at subsidised schools frequently failed to turn up and children were left to play football all day.
The Government pledged to end aid to wealthy India in 2012. Despite this, tens of millions are still pouring in. Last year’s total was more than £92million – although this was less than the previous year.
Some 59 per cent of India’s aid was given by DfID and 21 per cent by the business department. Much of the money goes towards what DfID describes as ‘technical assistance’ programmes. Other departments fund private sector programmes that help the poor.
The UK is now the only major economy in the world to hit the controversial foreign aid spending target.
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell said: ‘There is little public support for this 0.7 ring-fenced, inflation-proof budget, when vital services are being cut back here in the UK. A root and branch review of DfID, its budget and operations is needed and ministers need to take control back from empire-building officials or risk a collapse in public support all together.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘Our aid commitment increases Britain’s global influence and alongside our world class defence and diplomacy helps the UK to create opportunity, peace and prosperity worldwide… We have robust processes in place to scrutinise our projects to ensure that all UK aid is effective and represents value for money.’
Although Nigeria is oil-rich, a third of its population is below the national poverty line. Since 2016, UK aid increased in light of the humanitarian crisis driven by the Boko Haram jihadists.