Shortly before the last General Election, the TaxPayers’ Alliance produced a manifesto. Here is the latest in our series of posts looking at how the Coalition Government has performed in relation to our recommendations.
The Government has of course pushed ahead to enshrine in law spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. Committing to arbitrary targets means that projects are funded to meet obligations rather than to deliver gains on the ground for the world’s poorest.
Ring-fencing the international aid budget is gesture politics at its worst. This is especially true when the national debt is spiralling out of control.
Serious concerns have repeatedly been raised about whether value for money is being delivered by the Department for International Development (DfID). Our report from 2009revealed how at that time over 14 per cent of the international development budget was lost in administration between taxpayer and the frontline.
Enshrining an arbitrary target of 0.7 per cent in law in no way ensures that aid reaches the poorest and the most vulnerable in the developing world. It only means that British taxpayers, many with their own finances under significant pressure, will be now bound by legislation to pay a certain amount of their income to DfID.
As the economy starts to recover and national income increases, the DfID budget will now automatically rise at the same time. That means it would be immune from having to find ways of delivering more for less. It will entrench a culture of carelessness within the department too.
This report from the Commission on Aid Impact is just one example of a huge amount of taxpayers' money failing to achieve its objectives. Another report from the same body showed DfID were failing to tackle corruption. Our own research showed that freedom in recipient countries is not necessarily improving, even with more cash.
Achieving the desired results in projects like this is where the focus should be, not ion arbitrary input targets.
We have scored the Coalition 0/5 because they have given the aid budget immunity from the necessary savings that have to be made – and worse, enshrined that immunity into law.