Why would any political party in the UK try to enshrine in law, a commitment to spending 0.7% of gross national income on foreign aid? Especially when other UK government budgets are being capped or cut, to meet austerity targets?
The UK recently joined the ‘G07’ group of countries (Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands & the UK) who now give 0.7% (£11.4B in the UK’s case in 2013, a 30.5% rise from the prior year) of gross national income in foreign aid. Of the £11.4B given in foreign aid, £2.3B went to African countries and £1.7B to Asian countries.
Comparing those same G07 countries in 2013 on a GDP/capita basis in USD equivalents showed a wide difference between the UK and the others.
Also, it’s worth noting two other things – firstly, there were a further 15 countries with GDP/capita higher than the UK, that don’t make it into the G07 list. These included USA, Germany & France. And secondly, on a GDP per capita, based on purchasing power parity (takes into account the cost of living in each country), the UK sat at number 26 on that list.
Then there is the wider debate about how effective giving foreign aid is and how some of that money could be instead spent on worthy aid projects in the home country. Perhaps the most important point is that no EU or UK politician has the right to protect the UK foreign aid budget from cuts, when other government budgets are necessarily being cut.
Another important point is that there needs to be wider public debate about how much the UK spends on border control (has suffered budget cuts already), the consequences of inadequate border control and the foreign aid budget (a 30.5% rise over 2012), which David Cameron claims minimises the flow of refugees into the UK.
Some complimentary or mutually exclusive suggestions for the future foreign aid budget:
- The UK adjusts its foreign aid contribution to its ranking of GDP per capita in purchasing power parity. When more, richer per capita nations raise their contributions, the UK can then proportionately raise its foreign aid contributions also.
- The UK promptly terminates the £11.4B foreign aid budget and instead states that the rising contribution it makes to fund the EU government in Brussels now includes the UK’s contribution towards foreign aid and EU border control, leaving it to the EU government to make efficiency savings and fund an EU foreign aid spend on behalf of all EU members.
- The UK promptly terminates foreign aid to any country engaging in large scale military or space exploration projects. India is a prime example of the later.
- The UK promptly deducts from its foreign aid budget each year, all costs associated with returning refused asylum-seekers to their home country and processing foreign nationals in the UK Justice system (asylum hearings, prisons etc).
- The UK government creates a formula where, as the overall cost relating to seeking asylum in the UK rises, the overall foreign aid budget falls by the same monetary value.
- The UK government commissions a study into how the impact on the foreign aid budget could be increased significantly. For example, how could far more of this budget be spent directly reducing or bypassing corruption in the parts of the World receiving foreign aid, before money is given to help beneficiaries in those same countries.