Happy New Year 2018

Foreign aid to be shifted to support UK policy, Johnson says

Spread the love

Image copyright
AFP

The UK’s aid budget will be shifted to projects that promote its interests, the foreign secretary has said.

Boris Johnson said the money will be “more sensibly distributed” to support foreign policy aims such as denying safe havens to Islamist militants.

His comments came as Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said the UK will provide a £21m boost to an emergency aid fund.

The UK currently spends £13bn on aid each year.

Speaking to the Times newspaper, Mr Johnson said “the old jam jars are being smashed” and money would be diverted to support government aims, including combating terrorist groups in Africa.

It would also go to help refugees in Yemen and Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the Burmese border into Bangladesh, he added.

  • Reality Check: How much does the UK spend on overseas aid?
  • Where does UK aid go and why?

The government is committed to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid but some politicians oppose such spending.

Conservative backbench MP Peter Bone has said the target “means that important things at home like social care are struggling,” while Ukip have called for the aid budget to be cut by 80% and focus only on emergency responses and eradicating disease.

Labour backs the 0.7% target, saying global poverty reduction is itself in the UK’s interest.

In January, the government scrapped plans to fund an Ethiopian girl band as part of a project to promote women’s rights. It said there were “more effective ways” to invest UK aid.

Where does UK aid go?

As of April 2017:

  • More than 40% of the budget went to multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations, who fund big projects like disaster relief
  • The remaining 60% goes directly to developing countries
  • The Department for International Development says the biggest regional beneficiary is Africa, which received a total of £2.54bn from the UK last year
  • Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Syria, were each given more than £200m

Mr Johnson said the UK would gain more control of its aid spending after Brexit.

About £1bn of the money the UK pays to the EU budget counts as part of the foreign aid budget.

The EU spends that money on humanitarian aid and on emergency responses to world crises, as well as on projects in countries close to the EU and those hoping to join in the future.

Ms Mordaunt said that the extra £21m for the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was needed because 2018 could be “even bleaker” than this year, with its “harrowing” humanitarian crises.

The money will hep to provide millions of people with food, clean water, sanitation and vital health services.