New research reveals Foreign Aid failing to increase freedom in developing world

  • Extensive data study over the past ten years finds that foreign aid spending has no bearing on the freedom of ordinary people, the press or business in developing countries
  • Ground-breaking report gives developing countries a "freedom score" and contrasts that with the amount of bilateral foreign aid given by the UK Government
  • Of 20 countries studied, 10 countries showed no change at all in their freedom score despite an increase in bilateral aid they received, and 5 countries had a falling freedom score despite an increase in bilateral aid.


New analysis by the TaxPayers' Alliance demonstrates that British foreign aid spending has little to no bearing on the freedom experienced in receiving countries.The research, which uses a series of well-respected indices to deliver an overall "freedom score", plots that score against the amount of foreign aid a country has received. This freedom score encompasses freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of the internet and business and economic freedom.

As Parliament returns with a Bill to enshrine foreign aid spending in law entering Committee stage, our research suggests that the current approach to development is not delivering the progress many hoped. There are many reasons for this, but as donor countries look to improve the effectiveness of their aid spending, it is crucial to assess the progress made over the last decade. 

Among the key findings of this research are:
  • 10 countries showed little or no change at all in their freedom score despite an increase in the bilateral aid they received (Argentina, Bangladesh, DR Congo, Ethiopia, India, Malawi, Mozambique, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam and Zimbabwe)
  • 5 countries had a falling freedom score despite an increase in bilateral aidreceived (Afghanistan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan)
  • 2 countries showed improvements in their freedom score despite a reduction in the bilateral aid they received (Ghana, Paraguay, Peru and Zambia)
  • Just 3 countries had an improved freedom score with an increase in bilateral aid(Nepal, Rwanda and Tanzania)
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"With Britain's public finances in such a horrendous state, it's crucial that foreign aid delivers results. Too often, British taxpayers' money is spent propping up governments that refuse to grant fundamental freedoms.

"The arbitrary spending target of 0.7 per cent so loved by politicians means that money is spent for the sake of it, rather than for any obvious need. Every penny of foreign aid should have one goal - making the lives of ordinary people in developing countries better. If it isn't doing that, it should be stopped."

The TaxPayers' Alliance has long called for a freeze in foreign aid, and for the end of an arbitrary target of 0.7% of GDP. Much of the aid given to third countries is important, particularly at times of humanitarian crisis, but too much is wasted. Whilst Britain is £1.3 trillion in debt, this cannot continue.
TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contacts

Andy Silvester
Campaign Manager, The TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113

Notes to editors

1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, cut spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

2. The freedom score was calculated from a number of different sources. These were: Freedom in the World, Freedom of the Press, Freedom on the Net (all published by Freedom House), the Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders), the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation), the World Bank Doing Business Report (World Bank) and the Corruption Index (Transparency International).

3. The full research can be found via this link:
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