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CAFOD urges government to stop playing politics with aid budget

CAFOD has warned politicians that the aid budget should not be used “to play politics”.

The agency’s warning comes as the former international development secretary Priti Patel backed plans to take back control of the foreign aid budget.

She is calling for urgent reforms to how British taxpayer cash is spent abroad, saying we “need to raise our game” to get better value for money.

Ms Patel has endorsed modernisation plans to shift focus towards piracy, drugs-busting and private sector investment, in a report which suggests moving spending away from big international NGOs to smaller charities from the UK instead.

Produced by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who advocate for the scrapping of the UK’s 0.7 per cent aid spending target, it also argues there should be flexibility in the amount of aid spend each calendar year to allow ‘for greater value for money and effectiveness’.

Ms Patel said: “I welcome the debate about Britain’s support for the poorest in the world and this TaxPayers’ Alliance report highlights a number of important issues facing Britain’s development system.

“Having held the International Development portfolio, my approach of following the money, people and outcomes and a line-by-line review of every project to drive outcomes and value for money to support our national interest invigorated DfIDs accountability and approach to development.

“I believe that as the world is changing fast, we need to raise our game to get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money and champion an open, modern and innovative approach to development ready for the challenges of the 21st century.”

However, the report was criticised by aid charities, with Christine Allen, Director of Catholic aid agency CAFOD, saying that it “misses the point of the UK’s aid budget and shows they don’t understand development”.

“Development is not always straightforward in a world of increasingly complex global issues like climate change, migration and tax avoidance, but with 700 million people still living in extreme poverty, now is not the time to weaken our solidarity with the world’s poorest people,” she told The Catholic Universe.

“The UK public is rightly proud of our international aid record, which is respected for its focus on the poorest countries and for high standards of accountability.

“Those politicians seeking to use the aid budget solely  for  British interests,  rather than tackling poverty,  should understand  that  our focus on the world’s poorest people gives us standing in the world but also that it’s the right thing to do. 

“The aid budget should not be used to play politics and ambitious  politicians would do well to remember that.” 

Picture: File photo dated 20/03/17 of Priti Patel meeting staff and volunteers working on the East Africa Crisis Appeal during a visit to the Disaster Emergency Committee headquarters in London. (Yui Mok/PA).