Grants to persons and bodies

Much of government is a great recycling machine. It collects huge sums from taxpayers, and redistributes money to people, companies and institutions that it judges worthy or in need of it. Much of Parliamentary debate is about who should receive these grants, and about whether they are paid enough.

The most contentious grants are those to foreigners. The Coalition, the present Conservative government and the Labour Opposition all defend the idea that 0.7% of our GDP or 1.7% of our total public spending should be granted to overseas governments and companies operating in overseas places where incomes are low. The UK is one of the few countries to meet this UN target, with rich countries like the US and Germany refusing to get anywhere near it.

In order to hit the target there are times when ODA has made grants which many people and some of the press and media have thought foolish or inappropriate. There are rules over what is allowable as an overseas aid payment under the UN rules. There has been considerable argument within government over what should legitimately be included, and what flexibility there is within the UN rules.

For the rest of this article I am accepting that the current Parliament has no wish to repeal the legislation requiring us to spend 0.7%. Some of you may write in again to complain, but the reality is this is now widely accepted across the parties. I wish to explore what is and what should be included within this total.

The UK, for example, undertakes humanitarian missions using its armed forces. When they are called out to assist with an ebola outbreak in Africa I think all their costs for the duration of that mission including overheads and salaries as well as the accepted marginal costs should be charged to the Overseas Aid budget. What better example of good aid could there be, than UK personnel giving direct relief to the sick in a low income country.

The UK also often uses its military to undertake peace keeping missions in low income countries. Keeping the peace is fundamental to the success of any aid programme and programme of economic recovery. One of the main requirements to allow better growth and higher incomes in low income countries is stronger law and order. Shouldn’t this also be fully allowable as a charge against the overseas aid budget?

The UK gives refuge to many people fleeing violence, and to many economic migrants who have come from low income countries. Some of the initial expenditure is allowable as aid. Shouldn’t all the set up costs of a refugee be part of our aid budget? We need to provide an extra home, extra school place, extra surgery and hospital capacity.

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73 Comments

  1. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    The argument over whether the UK should put so much into foreign aid is too important to be brushed under the carpet just because all parties agree on the amount, particularly when we have so many people homeless, our NHS in crisis, our schools underfunded, our roads in a dire state, dementia patients not receiving what is needed, the elderly having to fund their own care, not enough for mental care for the young, our armed forces under pressure etc etc. The list is endless.

    You’re damned right the money for all these extra things you mention here should come out of the existing budget!!

  2. Peter Wood
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Good Morning.
    First, remember please the UK has to BORROW the money we give away!

    Second, please provide here or link to a website where we can see an audit of how much and where the money spent last year went. We can then perhaps assist you.

    Thank you.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org

      This shows the debts of countries and of the world. It is becoming obvious that a serious crash is just round the corner when the debts are called in. Maybe Brexit will cause that. Maybe not.
      This time we have no credit to fall back on like MrBrown when he “saved the world”.

      Personal debt is skyrocketing too. Sooner or later that, too, will be called in.

      UK is a poor country. We are no longer the workshop of the world. The government, and we, the public, assume that we are still lords of the British Empire.
      We are not.

      • Narrow shoulders
        Posted July 27, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        As the money is created at the click of the button and attracts interest there is little reason for it to be called in.

        Small margins are being made on astronomical figures.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Follow up, the closest I’ve found to a report; from the summary:

      The Department for International Development and HM Treasury monitor other government departments’ and funds’ ODA expenditure. And each department has a responsibility to make sure all of its expenditure, including ODA, secures value for money. But no single part of government has responsibility for monitoring the overall effectiveness and coherence of ODA expenditure (paragraph 2.15 and Figure 2).

      https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Managing-the-Official-development-Assistance-target-a-report-on-progress.pdf

  3. I will deal with it
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    0.7% should be the maximum limit of aid given to disasters. Gift aid tax relief to charities working in foreign climes should be included in the cap. It is taxpayers’ funds that are being given away.

    There should be no benefits of any kind paid to anyone who voluntarily comes to this country. Taxpayer largesse should not pay a part in any immigrant’s decision to come here. Schools and doctors should only be available to immigrants paying tax and NI.

  4. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    We should be more in control over what happens to this money too. Not just hand it over to another source to spend like sweeties. Too many despots are being allowed to spend it on the wrong things and I cannot for the life of me imagine why we are still sending out to countries who would rather spend their money on space travel rather than their own citizens. How about cleaning up the oceans around some of these countries where they still think its ok to dump their rubbish in the seas around them? We spend so much money on cleaning up the planet here that it is futile when others are dumping like it is going out of fashion. They were saying on the TV the other night that many in India still don’t have a toilet or any kind of sanitation. This is what their government should be doing, not ours. Not telling poorer countries that they cannot use certain fuels is not our responsibility either. All parties are trying to outdo one another on the charity front.

  5. Duncan
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    As perverse as this may appear I would rather see my taxes being spent on protecting young children living in high risk countries (ME, Africa and certain parts of Asia) than the immoral waste we see each day across Govt and the public sector.

    I could cite numerous domestic examples of individuals and State organisations (BBC is without doubt the archetypal abuser of State funding) who openly and without any regard abuse the funding afforded to them by the taxpayer. This offensive temerity and arrogance is the consequence of a system that as the word ‘entitlement’ stamped upon its soul.

    So, yes Foreign Aid should be used for two purposes. One, to protect the vulnerable (not the Labour Party’s idea of the ‘vulnerable’ which is a reflection of their victim based lexicon and includes everyone who votes Labour) and two, the generation of trade links that encourages economic growth in foreign nations with low GDP-Capita and inculcates a culture focused on domestic prosperity rather than the export of labour to the west

    Of course the real issue is not foreign aid spending but the moral argument surrounding just how much should the vested interest that is the State take from the private individual to finance its well appointed activities..

    Income is either in my bank account or in the bank account of the Exchequer. The more the Exchequer takes from me the more powerful it becomes

    I foresee a time, maybe 2030+ when the private person will effectively be working simply to finance the activities of the State. We will have become servants of an entity that is able to extract what he wants using the criminal law

    To say I am ashamed to vote Conservative is an understatement. They have capitulated to the left and that is an absolute tragedy not only the Tories but for the nation

  6. Mark B
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Much of government is a great recycling machine. It collects huge sums from taxpayers, and redistributes money to people, companies and institutions that it judges worthy or in need of it.

    To me, that is NOT how government should work. To me, that is naked Socialism, and we all know where that will lead us too in the end.

    Indeed the Foreign Aid budget is a matter of much angst. These reasons for this are many but, the one thing that gets me, is that no political party has ever sought to obtain the mandate for it from the very people who pay it. Why should 0.7% of my wealth be given to someone, mostly wastefully, so that our MP’s can strut on the world stage virtue signalling while people sleep rough on the streets. Old people go without decent care. Children are not able to receive potentially life saving treatment, and the cost of living is rising, irrespective of what some government figures suggest ? People look at the sums involved and feel that that money could be better spent on them.

    I do not expect, let alone ask, my neighbour to pay my bills, so why am I being asked to pay the bills of other governments ?

    Parliament might accept this grotesque abuse of our trust and its power, but I can assure yo sir, we the people do not !

  7. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Hasn’t anyone in any party noticed that this country is in debt and that we are paying interest on this money so it is going up all the time? When interest rates rise we will struggle to keep up with it all. They may be migrants seeking a better life but they are still illegal immigrants. They are nearly all young men too which will bring us more problems which will cost more money. Sorry John, the attitude that because all parties agree so it must be right doesn’t wash with me. In fact the ease with which it seems to be just accepted as the norm makes my blood boil.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Yes it’s odd isn’t it? …..The parties all agree but, in my opinion, the people whom they purport to represent, do not!……So much for democracy.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Cliff. Wokingham

        Well it seems obvious to me that nearly 100% of people commenting on this blog are against so much money being spent abroad.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      ……….and me. How many times have the legacy parties got so much wrong, especially when they agree! Iraq War, Afghanistan, mass immigration?
      They tax me, to borrow more to give it away, whilst increasing my Council tax to give more to our own elderly in social care. Our English Health service is collapsing, houses are being built everywhere to accommodate immigrants, whilst giving them free health, housing and education immediately on arrival. Then its announced everyone has the right to change their sex at will, and then we have the petrol and diesel ban from 2040, without any plans to increase power supply or efficient electric vehicles to replace them.
      This Government and Westminster have gone nuts and out here in the real world we know it!

  8. James Wallace-Dunlop
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Your logic is compelling,.

    It is bizzare to think that if the UK takes someone from a uk-supported refugee camp on the border of Syria, moves them to the UK, and spends much more money on their accommodation, healthcare & substance, the ‘aid expenditure’ could be deemed to decrease. This could lead to civil servants administering aid wanting to keep people in refugee camps because it is an easy and uncontroversial way to spend the aid budget.

  9. Turboterrier.
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Good morning John

    For the rest of this article I am accepting that the current Parliament has no wish to repeal the legislation requiring us to spend 0.7%

    All very fine and noble, but with our national debt running in the trillions and the potential of getting bigger, with the perception of many especially in the money markets that public spending is out of control and that an increase in interest rates up to 5% would almost certainly create a Greek scenario and the opposition if they were to gain power wanting to borrow more, the country is heading for a horrendous train smash.

    All political parties over a thirty year period have allowed public spending to rise year on year. in the last 7 years our national debt has doubled. It is time to call a halt to all this madness and for parliament to start acting responsibly and cancel all these totally grandiose projects that are highlighted here on a daily basis and start living within our means. This is not just a UK thing, as the whole world money markets are but a pack of dominoes just waiting for the first one to fall.

    Sadly the country has arrived at that “wake up, open your eyes and smell the coffee moment”.

  10. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink


    Ovrseas aid is basically a good idea, except when it causes impoverishment at home.

    I’m also not convinced that we should be following any UN guidelines, given they are very much in favour of richer countries redistributing their alleged wealth to countries that cannot look after their own affairs. Wealth redistribution is a socialist policy of the lowest order, and something I am totally against.

    It is time the government published in full what is spent on overseas aid and made that easily available to support their case… If it is shown to be lacking in real causes, or too many people disagree with how money is spent then the government should reconsider its target.

    Also, JR, I’d love to know what it costs to administer the OA

    • Mitchel
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Ian Birrell in the Mail On Sunday,despite being,historically,something of a Cameroon,has written a whole series of articles examining not just the waste but also the extravagance and self-enrichment of those that help us spend the aid budget.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 6:27 am | Permalink


        Very Interesting …..!!

    • Bob
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      “Also, JR, I’d love to know what it costs to administer the OA”

      £138m

  11. agricola
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    The first thing to point out to all you generous politicians is that , as with the EU, the majority of you may like paying vast sums to dubious overseas causes but the people do not. There are many more pressing needs in the UK, particularly among the elderly that you choose to ignore while enjoying the warm feeling of throwing money into the overseas aid plate. The sum exceeds what it costs us financially to be members of the EU. Cut it down to size and spend it in many of the ways you suggest in a firefighting sense.

    Isn’t it overdue that the nations benefitting from overseas aid and the constant begging on television should be told to get their own house in order and be pilloried until they do.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Totally agree.
      The other thing that really gets my goat is when we get the begging adverts on the TV with all the sad eyes etc. and then at the end of the advert, it announces that “The UK government will match any donation you make.” Firstly, the UK Government has no money of it’s own: Only that which it extracts from the over taxed population and secondly, surely, if someone wishes to give that’s fine but, when our government gives again, we are giving twice and have no choice as to which causes we give to. Surely, when giving to charity ceases to be voluntary, it cannot be charity can it?

      We are NOT a rich country, we are up to our necks in debt at every level. We could be a rich country again if we cut back the amount of government we have and cut the areas in which they interfere in all of our lives.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      On top of that we have all and sundry imploring us to give charitable aid when there are disasters around the world on top of the obscene £12 billion and rising aid bill. Meanwhile this Government has reduced police numbers by 20,000 whilst we are at the most risk in a generation from those of a particular religion who seek to cause us serious harm. Its always easy for meddling politicos to be generous when giving away other peoples money!

  12. Old Albion
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Do you honestly believe sending money to a commonwealth country, that is developing nuclear weapons, while some of it’s citizens live on the street. Is a good use of my taxes?

    • anon
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Plenty of UK born citizens are living on streets, who are lower priority than others. Governments make bad choices, unless a mechanism exists to change it.

      “all the parties agree” so there is no mechanism to change it.

      Perhaps we should hypothecate the overseas aid charge as a tick box on tax returns of MP’s

  13. alan jutson
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Assuming the level of aid in percentage terms is not going to change, then it is sensible that we retain control where that money is spent, and the best way of doing that is to supervise any aid operation ourselves, that does not mean we cannot use local labour, but we supervise and control it.

    Of course our armed forces if they on a humanitarian mission should be paid for out of our aid budget, including all set up costs and depreciation and maintenance of equipment.

    We should never be funding foreign aid simply by giving money to another government, or even directly to their people.

    Your point about refugees being accepted here (after all checks are completed) is a good one, why should a local authority be made to pay for their initial welfare (which should be time limited)

  14. sm
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    You make very valid points about what should be attributed to the Overseas Aid Budget.

    However, while the concept may well be largely ‘accepted by all Parties’ in Westminster, it certainly does not appear to be largely accepted by the majority of the electorate.

    At the very least, there needs to be far greater clarification and publicity about the details of Aid spending – for instance, I was unaware until reading it here that some of the costs of settling refugees here is derived from that budget.

    • DaveM
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      “I was unaware until reading it here that some of the costs of settling refugees here is derived from that budget.”

      That may – in some roundabout way – justify the budget and make it seem less like a giveaway to foreign countries, but the money still comes from our taxes. I would rather see it spent on the native homeless I see when walking around any city centre than on so-called “refugees” who – for the most part – come here purely because they will be given a free easy life paid for by me.

  15. alan jutson
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I have said many times before, the UK people are very generous in times of real need, they have donated tens of millions of pounds to very many disasters over the years, and will continue to do so for genuine short term causes.

    Unfortunately when you just give money to a project without being in control, so much seems to be siphoned off in so called expenses, with only a small percentage getting to the people in real need.
    Our Foreign Aid Budget needs to protect itself against this abuse.

    All Aid should bear the Nations flag, be it people in uniform, sacks of food, piles of blankets, or equipment provided.

    If a Foreign Government will not allow us boots on the ground to help organise, supervise and distribute our own aid (even as part of a larger project), then we should simply walk away, and go somewhere else that will.

  16. Jack
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    UK Government spends first and then taxes. Please get it right, you will never find the right answers when you start from an assumption that is wrong.

  17. Bob Dixon
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more. More of this aid money should be spent in the Uk.

  18. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Virtue signalling at its worst by unscrupulous politicians. Austerity at home but spraying borrowed money much of which is wasted overseas.
    Yesterdays announcement that we are to be all electric by 2040 and Gove implying the extra power will come from wind or nuclear is nonesense.
    What happens on a cold frosty December day when the wind stops. Does the country come to a standstill.
    Most car production will decamp as no other country will follow and how will government make up the billions collected in fuel duty.
    You really are trying to make yourselves unelectable.

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      @ Ian Wragg

      You really are trying to make yourselves unelectable.

      What do you mean Ian? TRYING? You are having a laugh and so is Westminster at our expense.
      All the money be it on aid, electric cars, greencrap and HS2 is all being borrowed and having to pay interest on. John seems to have a problem with my posts highlighting the state we are in over debt as it seems moderation is the word for the day.

      This won’t get printed but at least it will hopefully have been read.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        You really are trying to make yourselves unelectable.

        Until the electorate spoils more ballots than are registered for valid candidates someone will always be elected and little will really change.

  19. hefner
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Some very interesting questions so often coarsened to “should we spend any money on foreigners when we have problems of our own?”, but so much better put by Priti Patel (Secretary of State for International Development) when using such DfID budget to “tear down the barriers to free trade”.
    Some people on this blog are usually rabid as far as international development is concerned. They should not forget or might be reminded that “Capitalism and development was Britain’s gift to the world” and that helping poor countries kickstart growth and development might be the best way to prevent present and future generations in developing countries from seeking emigration to the UK.

    • David Price
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I agree to an extent since the first question should be “Why must aid given”. Without an answer to that how could anyone decide how much, given to whom and how administered.

      Without a reasonable answer to “why” then money taken from taxpayers is not an act of generosity at all and pretending it is to prevent criticism is hypocrisy and cowardice.

      But then, even if the “why” is reasonable, if we cannot afford it and must borrow to give such donations then clearly we are operating above the 0.7% if that doesn’t include the interest and all who support such a thing have no grounds to complain about any welfare expenditure at home.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Counter-intuitively, the first stages of kickstarting their economies can actually lead to an increase in emigration, so I have read. The claimed reason being that it increases the resources available to people to pay for the processes of their migration, often of course illegal processes. That is not an argument against trying to help them, but it is an argument against the argument that we should help them in their own countries to try to stem their movement to our country.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      hefner

      Therby proving

      1) you dont understand free markets

      2) youve never been to Africa

      The Africans I speak to ( mostly Uganda, Botswana and Kenya) dont want aid they want access to European markets for their goods and services. The EU customs union ( which you are in favour of, has been stopping this for more than 50 years)

      Please supply one shred of evidence that OA has been used to kickstart anything in growth and developments of markets in developing countries .

      Free markets work ( check the data on humanprogress.org ) government aid and interference do not and never have. Its political virtue signalling

      • hefner
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Well, on point 1 I certainly cannot compare anything to your deep understanding of them. On point 2, I guess certainly not as much as you must have done.
        M-Pesa has been half started by Vodafone from Kenya with DfID money and is now one of the most developed mobile operators in Africa, heavily used for money transfers.
        You know, there are charities like Practical Action and SwissContact active in Africa, and these at times even recruited people from the UK.

  20. Bob
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    “the reality is this is now widely accepted across the parties”

    then it’s those “Parties” that need to be changed.

    UKIP proposed that the 0.7% should be abolished.
    The idea that you set a budget without knowing what you will be spending it on is ludicrous and leads to the stupid spending decisions we hear about, where DfID shovels money into the World Bank and an assortment of NGOs just to meet this arbitrary spending target.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11756594/Britain-should-stop-wasting-money-on-foreign-aid.html

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      @ Bob

      Spot on, no doubt about it. For too long we have had talk, talk, talk with very little to no listening. Working with a group this morning totally peed off with the status quo and like me once staunch Tories but over the last few months totally disillusioned with what is going on and some really wanting UKIP to get their act together so that we can bring about change instead of the same old same old year in and year out.

      The government is just like the stewards on the Titanic moving deck chairs around and changing nothing. In nearly all the major critical areas of governing they have completely lost the plot and are operating in something akin to a rudderless ship with no captain and very little crew with the where with all and ability to survive.

    • getahead
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Like having a budget that has to be spent whether or not there is something useful to spend it on.

  21. Lifelogic
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Indeed all very sensible stuff.

    If we we must spend it spend it so it is well directed and produced real short and longer term benefits for the recipients. I have very little confidence that this is done given the absurd things we hear about how some has been spent and the large scale corruption that we often see.

    Any comment on the huge damage done yesterday to productivity by the supreme court. Great new for unproductive lawyers at the expense of everyone else. The government really need to stop all the legal scams that go on, from whiplash claims to vexatious have a go employment claims. This can only be done with a fair allocation of risk rewards, fees and costs in all court cases. Judges should have a duty to act in the interest of the public not the interest of encouraging ever more littigation to benefit the lawyers and vexatious littigants and damage the rest.

    They should also have a duty to apply the law parliament has clearly made rather than rewriting it.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      Government policy is now becoming a rather sick, but expensive joke.

      Yet another Government scheme overturned by our Courts, this seems to becoming rather a habit of late.

      Is our Government capable of making law, which is lawful ?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Are the courts capable of interpreting the law rather than thinking they have the right to totally rewrite it (usually in the interests of lawyers) on some highly dubious ground such are gender discrimination and human rights?

        Any law will always have a degree of “gender discrimination”, this as the two genders are, on average, different in almost anything you care to measure.

  22. Peter
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    The ‘deserving poor’ is a phrase that springs to mind.

    Countries overwhelmed by a natural disaster such as a tsunami or earthquake should be helped. Some countries have a weakness like susceptibility to major flooding. They should be helped.

    However, no aid whatsoever should go to the feckless. Those who expect handouts and do nothing to help themselves. Countries that have gone backwards – such as Zimbabwe.

    Countries with a kleptocracy in power, who simply siphon aid money into their own Swiss bank accounts.

    Countries that have a hostile attitude towards the UK.

    Much aid could go towards sterilising poor populations with more people than they can support.

  23. Richard1
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Agreed. 0.7% of GDP to the ODA is a fixed piece of virtue signalling and allows politicians of all parties to paint halos round their heads. David Cameron was especially good at this. But it’s not a good policy as it’s far from clear much of it does any good – the successful developing countries haven’t received aid – and much of it is wasted as widely reported. So accounting fudges are the best way round it, I would support those you suggest. I also think we should try to get support for Eastern European structural funds in there as part of the Brexit terms. Those would also be good uses of money and enable both sides in the negotiation to claim a success – which is the only way there will be a deal.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Or, tell the EU that once we have left the EU we will no longer be subsidising Poland through the EU institutions in any way, so don’t even bother asking, while telling the Poles that we are open to discussions on bilateral aid in the future.

  24. APL
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    JR: “to overseas governments and companies operating in overseas places where incomes are low. ”

    And living costs are correspondingly low too.

    JR: “The UK is one of the few countries to meet this UN target, with rich countries like the US and Germany refusing to get anywhere near it.”

    So it’s not a mandatory target?

    Are there not enough poor people in Glasgow? Birmingham? Exeter?

  25. JoolsB
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Despite the amount we give away in foreign aid being very unpopular with the public, the politicians yet again choose to ignore us because it makes them feel good. I wonder if they are as generous with their own money, I suspect not.

    May’s government are a tax and spend, meddling, authoritarian bunch of socialists. What a waste John that politicians like you are not in the cabinet, a politician who is in touch with the public mood and offers common sense policies. Now that’s a rare thing.

    It’s a disgrace that so much money is squandered on foreign aid (and so many other things) whilst meanwhile social care in England is cut to the bone and kids in England are being burdened with eye watering life changing debts for most of their working lives.

    A Conservative voter all my life I am finished with the Conservative party John. When we get some true Conservatives like yourself running the country, I may consider voting for them again but not until. They are a disgrace.

  26. The PrangWizard
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    If one opposes a policy, it should be opposed and its faults exposed; it should not be settled for.

    As for exceptional cases of disaster, if engaged, they should be paid for out of a contingency fund, drawn from only in exceptional circumstances. Regular help should also be should be paid for only if our nation’s finances are fit to support it and if it is clearly warranted.

    Overseas aid policy is perfectly designed for corruption and waste, since it has to be spent regardless of need. And perfect for virtue signally government and individuals. It is quite wrong that it has been fixed in law.

    We should not be part of this global agenda. The Germans have the right attitude. Mrs May and government is wrong again to support it.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Bear in mind that at present a chunk of UK foreign aid is channeled through Brussels where it is rebranded as EU aid and used to promote the EU’s global ambitions.

  28. Lincolnshire pension
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I don’t doubt that there is a consensus that the 0.7% target should be retained by our parliamentary establishment but I doubt this consensus extends to those who pay for it. Perhaps a useful subject for a referendum which could confirm or otherwise the decision of our political elite.

  29. Andy Marlot
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    That’s a very disingenuous way of looking at tax. A more accurate way to see it is government extorts money on pain of imprisonment or death from the productive then takes a very large proportion of it for itself and it’s friends and distributes the remaining amount to people it judges will vote for more theft and extortion from anyone but themselves as long as the gravy train continues.
    I actually run a recycling business and I have yet to even threaten, let alone actually use, violence to make a living. Government on the other hand. does it every single day.

  30. Oggy
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    You already know my feelings about Overseas Aid. I totally and fully agree with Philip Davies MP for Shipley who said in Parliament at PMQ’s …..

    ” The repeated claim that spending ever-increasing amounts of money on overseas aid keeps this country safe has been shown by recent events to be utter nonsense.
    Can I tell the Prime Minister that spending more and more money on overseas aid each year does not make us look compassionate to the public, it makes us look idiotic to the public when that money is much needed in the United Kingdom.

    “So can she promise to slash the overseas aid budget and spend it on priorities in the UK?
    “I hope she doesn’t have a strange political aversion to pursuing any policies that might be popular with the public.”

    His speech was met with jeers from other MPs in the House of Commons.

    He is CORRECT the policy doesn’t make the Government look compassionate at all, just stupid. The reaction from other MP’s says it all.

  31. Gertrude
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The Government is like an old very proud Victorian lady who set up regular payments and support for numerous church charities and despite her wealthy husband’s businesses floundering goes on giving away money and getting the pair of them into even more debt, blissfully unaware they are heading for the Poor House.

  32. Money Counterist
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    We should pay people to leave London.
    A/ Companies,
    B/Housebuilders
    C/ Tower Block makers
    D/ Bus and Taxi drivers
    E/ Train Drivers
    F/ Michael Gove

  33. Ghost of Xmas Future
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    “…Parliament has no wish to repeal the legislation requiring us to spend 0.7%. Some of you may write in again to complain, but the reality is this is now widely accepted across the parties. ” Then you widely accept across the parties you will be run out of power by some other party at some stage and the 0.7% placed as a fine on individual ex-MPs who consistently voted for it. Fair enough. Taking responsibilty for ones actions is what this Country is about.

  34. Bert Young
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    As with many government departments it is interesting that there is a considerable amount “spent” in the last few days of their annual budget cycle . There would seem to be a rush to make sure cost targets are reached in order to justify their next allocation . Obviously this is “fishy” and warrants investigation .

    Why we should spend so much more than Germany on Foreign Aid is laughable . They have an enormous surplus from their exports and should contribute a proportionate sum at least equal to ours . The same is true in defence costs . There are many loopholes in the administration of the foreign aid we provide all due to the lack of precise understanding and monitoring to the countries who receive it . This must stop .

  35. ian
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I would also take 0.7 from people wages and profits, and when the un increases the in 2020 to 1% i would follow suit.

  36. a-tracy
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    First, you would have to explain how the distribution of this 1.7% of public spending works. Is it controlled and run by Conservative MPs, a cross party of MPs, civil servants, specific charities set up? The British public are treated like mushrooms, best kept in the dark.

    Shouldn’t the Conservative government be celebrating loud and proud about what aid we give to the World, isn’t this something that we should brag about. Just like shining a light on the astronomic sums of money the BBC pay to ‘talent’ a light needs shining on this set up.

    Who gets paid to administer it, who is answerable for the success of projects we fund?

    I didn’t realise that one of my children thought everyone in Africa lived in huts and were starving, that was all she had heard for years on the tv, I bought her the National Geographic to add to her knowledge – we should know more. We were the biggest funders of the refugee centres near to Syria yet this was kept quiet whilst we were being called for a lack of refugee effort in the UK.

    It just all stinks.

    SHINE A BIG LIGHT ON IT, let’s have a website, with a blog updated with every project. We shouldn’t just give money away, we should expect something to be created to make it sustainable and give a long term benefit to the people.

    Of course aid provided to foreigners in the UK should be included and refunded to the Councils providing the extra teachers, the extra nursing and caring. We also need a conversation about what work we should expect for this aid, we shouldn’t keep people idle for too long.

  37. Nanny Says
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    You make a very strong case for reducing the number of MPs to 50 from 650 or so and giving the “remaining” ( forgive my French ) MPs no other responsibilty than pouring milk over their cornflakes each morning with pre-determined cornflake bowl volume and milk volume so they don’t overpour and wet themselves..it can go sour, stain and smell.

  38. Pat
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    If we absolutely must borrow money to give away (not a course of action I would recommend to anyone or any organisation unable to balance income with expenditure) then yes, every penny spent helping foreigners should be counted part of the aid budget.
    I understand that many poor countries depend on import duties to fund their Governments. If so then we could offer to make up that income on condition that they adopted free trade. The trade would make them richer and more self sufficient, and would likely benefit us as well.
    As above, sending money to a country with a powerful military or a space program or nuclear weapons or indeed an aid program of its own is nonsense.

  39. Richard Hobbs
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I accept that we should help where our help is really needed. Having said that, let’s not forget our own pensioners who live abroad and have their state pensions frozen!!

  40. Local Lad
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I find the widespread view that we should discontinue overseas aid both sad and disappointing. We seem to lack sympathy for people living in intolerable conditions who would consider the most modest standard of living in the West, sheer luxury. Sure there are despots and crooks who are happy to siphon of these sums for their own benefit and that is something we must guard against. Instead of bearing the costs of immigrants who arrive here we should be prepared to spend on helping to make their countries a more attractive place to live, safely and prosperously.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Local Lad
      Instead of bearing the costs of immigrants who arrive here we should be prepared to spend on helping to make their countries a more attractive place to live, safely and prosperously.

      Excuse me, but I think the West has been donating to the cause for long enough but still nothing much changes. There are still thousands coming over in boats and leaving their countries due to wars which then cause famine and illness. We cannot control what goes on in these countries and we cannot take the whole population of these countries. Some how or another they have to sort out what is happening in their own country and we should leave them to do so.

  41. Terry
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely correct John. But will your ideas be accepted by the liberal lefties of all parties who seem hell bent on bankrupting the country?
    We must first borrow the money to hand over in Overseas Aid. Yet we deny certain medical treatments to our own citizens and refuse a decent accommodation to many of our war veterans because of a lack of funds.. Where is the fairness in that and is it any wonder the general public are against this much abused policy?
    It will be seen as nothing but a vanity project for the politicians who support it.

    To gain public confidence in its administration and fund management, the total budget must be reduced or your ideas are immediately put into practice.
    Currently is its seen as a waste of public money over which the people have no say. Politicians are elected to take care of our tax payers money and not to blow it on egotistical ‘trips’.

  42. Gary Lloyd-Coxhead
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    You may be correct that all the major parties agree on the 0.7% figure, but in every election I have voted in I don’t recall the pubic being asked their views on this, and it has never been an ‘election issue’ as far as I recall. Politicians represent us, the public, and public opinion, if social media is anything to go by, seems to be that the majority do not appreciate sending vast sums of money abroad when there are pressing issues at home that could do with financial support. It is also complete madness that we ‘borrow’ money, on which we pay interest no doubt, in order to meet this agreed target which, as you have said, no other major economy gets near! It is time this issue was looked at very seriously from the publics perspective and not from the Westminster Bubble that seems to prevail. It is MY money, from taxes etc., and I don’t appreciate it being wasted, especially when we still give money to Pakistan yet they can afford to build rockets and nuclear weapons! I am sure there are many other outrageous misuse’s of this money that should be very tightly controlled and targeted.

  43. formula57
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    “Shouldn’t all the set up costs of a refugee be part of our aid budget? We need to provide an extra home, extra school place, extra surgery and hospital capacity.”

    Oh joy! Yes! A very courageous policy, as Sir H. Appleby might say.

    So when some entitled chav demands a council house or education or access to health care, ministers can legitimately say “no, the capacity available goes not to you but to bogus asylum seekers as it is paid for from their share of the government’s budget, the same that your taxes have provided”.

    I have not ever seen you advocate a more courageous policy and I assume it is really designed to finish off May and all her kind who willl doubtless not see the danger. Well done!

  44. Diad
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Instead of that, how about: infrastructure; alternative energy; high speed rail; rehire every teacher, fire fighter, cop laid off in last 8 years; quintuple trade school and community college staff – free tuition; pulling your children from a burning building, forming the thin blue line between a rapist and your wife, educating your children.
    – The sovereign, like the UK, can:
    a. issue currency to spend and buy anything the economy produces,
    b. up to the productive capacity of the economy,
    c. without creating inflation.

    In other words the British government can issue currency and hire any and all unemployed and underemployed folk. The constraint is the productive capacity of the economy, as measured by wage inflation. If prices do rise above an acceptable level, they can be controlled by i) selling government securities, ii) raising interest paid on deposits at the fed, iii) raising taxes across the board, or iv) a cut in spending.

  45. John
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    When I was young the mantra was trade not aid. You cannot improve a country by shovelling pound notes into it. If you advanced the money in return for traded goods or services that England required it would improve employment prospects in the recipient country and forge a dynamic economy that would sustain the settled population. Our country would gain from the raw materials, farm produce or components that we require and it would be mutally benificial to all. No money should be given to NGOs without governmental oversight. One more madness, the 0.7% GDP these days includes money earned by crime and prostitution under the EU directive. I lived in an era when politicians did what was best for the people, today they do what is best for the economy i.e. the corporations and themselves.

  46. Fed up with Westmins
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The fact that parliament won’t stop handing out vast sums of our money overseas, whilst we see our schools, roads and hospitals fall apart, puts you in direct conflict with what the voters want.

    Democracy in this country is just a joke now and it won’t be long before some kind of revolution sweeps the lot of you from power.

  47. lojolondon
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Charity begins at home. We throw money at any foreign cause that can possibly be labelled ‘legitimate’ and when we fail to meet our targets then we chuck the rest of the money into the EU’s foreign aid basked and let them deal with the allocations. Despicable waste of money, on every level.

  48. Dennis Zoff
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I have an excellent idea…

    “Let the Government set up another quango (paid for by the overseas aid fund) and discuss what can be done?” ….this should last for the next 10 years, with no appreciable changes taking place!

    However, we will all feel better that this situation is being discussed in earnest by the Government!”

    Am I being sarcastic..what do you think?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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