BLOWING Britain’s aid budget on post-Brexit trade deals, as suggested by a Tory Cabinet minister, would be “utterly wrong,” anti-poverty charity War On Want warned yesterday.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said aid funding to global organisations could be slashed to give taxpayers “better value for money.”
She claimed that the £4 billion Britain donates to international organisations such the World Bank needs to be scrutinised more thoroughly.
Ms Patel suggested that part of Britain’s £12 billion aid budget should be spent on helping the country win international favour in the wake of the Brexit vote.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have to make sure that our aid works in our national interest and also that it works for our taxpayers.
“Much more openness, much more transparency and much more accountability.”
The Witham MP said British aid should help deliver free trade agreements and “life post-Brexit.”
War on Want’s Vicki Hird said: “Any suggestion that the wheels of corporate-led trade deals should be oiled by the aid budget is utterly wrong.
“Such deals benefit multinational corporations and external investors by removing power from countries to protect their own industries and services.
“Yes, [the Department for International Development’s] mission needs to be reviewed — aid is being used to promote the interests of multinational companies in Africa, rather than fighting poverty and inequality — but that review needs to ensure the aid budget is only used for genuine poverty reduction initiatives, such as support for small-scale farming, rather than boosting the profits of big business.
“If Patel really wants to help developing countries, she would push for an immediate abolition of the UK’s own global network of tax havens, which fuel secrecy and corruption, and push for public country-by-country reporting to tackle the lack of transparency in the global financial system.”
Labour’s shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor said British aid did help many of those who needed it, especially women and girls.
Ms Patel was “fixated on imposing her dogma of the free market” rather than on ensuring aid was effective, Ms Osamor said.