Friday, September 04, 2009

Let's Cut (At Least) £1 Billion From the DFID Budget

I have never agreed with David Cameron's decision to ringfence spending on international aid. While it does much good work, it is a profligate government department. In a report published later today by the International Policy Network called FAKE AID the extent of Dfid's wasteful ways is laid bare for all to see. Apparently more than £1 billion of our money is being p****d down the drain. Here are a few of the lowlights...

• £1.2 million given to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) since 2003 for activities including: lobbying, hiring new staff and an “international buffet and wine” event to celebrate “International Women’s Day” in the UK. DfID also paid the TUC to hold lessons in how to apply for DfID funds.

• £300,000 to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to “enable them [teachers] to become global agents of change”.

• The creation of fake NGOs such as “Connections for Development” (CfD), supposedly a forum for black and ethnic minorities to engage “on issues relating to international development.” DfID created and is the only donor to CfD, providing it with £600,000 in its first two years, yet an independent review questioned “the purpose of the organisation.”

• £10 million spent flying poor Brits to poor countries to work for free.

IPN’s Julian Harris, one of the report’s authors, said “DfID often hand-picks the largest recipients, such as trade unions, behind closed doors. This smacks of cronyism.”

Doesn't it just. So, George Osborne, what's it to be? £1 billion off the Dfid budget? Good man.


Dick the Prick said...

Private Eye have a long running series on how the fund is managed like a hedgy, with it now being private, disengaged from its original skill base and forces schemes on countries for its own commercial interests. I thought it just dovetailed thru the MoD but presumably that's nieve.

Anonymous said...


Afghanistan is a corrupt country. All NGOs including DFID have to pay back handers so their various projects can go ahead either to central/regional government official and also more disturbingly the Taleban. After all you do not want to build a school and then someone blows it up.

The Afghan people see nothing wrong with this, it is how things have always been done. Quite frankly this is a question that ought to be asked each week at PMQs:

Mr Speaker how much money paid out last week by the DFID has been diverted into the hands of the Taleban?

Colin said...

Couldn't agree more - while I am in principle supportive of international aid I've never really agreed with the idea that there is a whopping great government department dedicated to giving our money away - at a time when our own govt finances are in a parlous state. So the news that there is £1bn to be saved is welcome. maybe go further - abolish DfID entrely and transfer its work - and just a fraction of its headcount - to teh Foreign Office under a junior minister, with a strong Treasury input on the value for money front. Too much of our money is being spent profligately, and without reference to 'bang for buck'. Osborne should certainly include DfID in a wide-rangeing and hard-hitting cull of expenditure. I want to see civil servants weeping on Westminster Bridge as they look for real jobs in the real world, not leeching of the poor benighted taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Can you really take the analysis of FAKE AID seriously? And quote spending of less than £2 million to justify cutting £1bn? Let's have a little more rigour.

Rob T said...

Hang on - DFiD are giving OUR tax monies to Unions. Did I read that right? Incredibly, this execrable government still has the power to shock me. Please, please, please do your level best to get this more media coverage. Utterly unacceptable.

GreenKeane said...

You've only covered £12.1m there. Have you got a longer list? As that's a rather large gap.

True Belle said...

HOW many MPs cleared off on extended summer hols overseas for fact finding jolly's

Did DFID fund these trips?

£1 Billion could have kept Royal Naval Hospital HASLAR in Gosport(It closed in July- sold off-) and other service hospitals intact, instead of closing them.

This money could have given the right equipment and kit to our people in the armed services-

Pigging and p*****g money like this away is an absolute outrage.

They just don't care, do they.

Tax-Payer said...

And next you could look at our contributions to moribund organisations like the World Bank (what exactly have they achieved since Bretton Woods other than creating a vast coterie of cronies, recruited on a quota basis rather than merit and all set to retire as millionaires?), the IMF and pretty much all of the UN organizations - the latter totalling another £1bn in UK contributions in 2007. You might then go on to look at the British Council. What purpose exactly do they serve in the 21st Century?

Anonymous said...

Iain, I hope I got the facts correct, but I beleive that some time last year we gave 800M to China.


Scott said...

It always disappoints me when I see fellow Tories argue for reductions in the aid and development budget. The priority for an incoming Conservative government should not be to cut the budget, but rather to more fully integrate aid and development into our foreign policy. This sort of excess only becomes possible once development and diplomacy become decoupled.

The current bifurcated structure, with DfID and the FCO operating according to completely separate concepts has proved an utter failure. We need a much more streamlined structure with clear lines of accountability.

Reading the last Green Paper, the Tories do appear to have grasped the basic point, but they fail to follow the logic of their position through. It is clear that they have a new structure in mind. The problem, from the little that we know, is that it does not appear to address the core issues.

It commits them only to enhancing the role of the Stabilisation Unit and a new National Security Council. The problem with this approach is that it leaves the broad outlines of the existing structure in place.

For my money, we need to be much more radical. We need bold strokes, not the kind of tentative, incremental change the Tories have in mind.

That means effectively undoing the reforms of the late 1990s and collapsing the whole thing into one structure by bringing DfID back under the control of the FCO.

David said...

No. Close it down. On day one. If I paid less tax, I could afford to make charitable donations to real aid organisations.

Cynic said...

DFIDs contracting proceedures are also a shambles.

FireForce said...

DFID give money to people of the left who want to destroy our western way of life, just like giving someone the rope to hang you.
Mind, a left wing government like we have will always give more and more in the hope of buying votes.
Yes the time is long over due to curb this monster.

Letters From A Tory said...

Of all the government departments to protect, DfID was always one of the most bizarre choices. This merely confirms the suspicions of everyone with an interest in small, efficient and honest government.

wapping boy said...

DFID is a total disgrace and should be shut down. There is enough to worry about at home without money being p***ed away to Indian and China so that they can spend their own money on space programmes and nukes.

The fact that DFID is paying taxpayers' money to trade unions should be enough to have its management hauled up in front of the police for misfeasance in public office. That they aren't is something that Cameron should address asap.

Has anyone researched how much public money would be saved if the river of cash pumped into equality/diversity agendas was stopped? That's got to be worth several billion, I'd have thought. Trimming huge amounts of the government's expenditure is easy - it just requires a government that isn't left wing.

True Belle said...

Social Development Advisor's Retreat
Social Development Direct
Economic Infrastructure
PO 4910
Social Development Consultant to DFID's Social Protection Team
Social Development Direct
Social Infrastructure and Services
PO 4915
Training for FLEGT Partner Country Staff
Pro Forest
Environmental Protection
PO 4947
Environmental Transformation
Un of Sussex
Environmental Protection
PO 4873

headless said...

WTF have the Unions got to do with International Development??!

DMC said...

I honestly think we need to have a debate about foreign aid.

We have for years poured money into some fo the worlds pourest countries, with very little to show for it.

I think we need to actually ask is our charity helping? or are we just making a problem much worse because these countries are living hand to mouth on loans.

Anonymous said...

It may br right or it may be wrong to cut the DfID budget but it is certainly right to reconsider what it is spent on.

I would be more than happy to see the budget INCREASED if it was spent purely (as aid) on schemes to the direct benefit of Britain and to countries free of corruption.
Since our own aid budget is itself clearly corrupt that might well take some doing, but if the budget were put into a fund instead of simply allowed to be unspent - well then pretty soon we would have a hefty wad of influence in the world.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with points about giving money to China and India - any nation able to maintain nuclear and space programmes should not have the begging bowl out. Crazy misuse of our money

Ed the Shred said...

The chances of Dave cutting the DFID budget in any meaningful way are close to zero. To do so would run the risk of him being tarnished with the slur of being a nasty tory by all the do-gooding, hand-wringing socialist brigades. I don't think Dave is brave enough to run that risk.

Forlornehope said...

What was that the other day about grass-roots tories not living up to the stereotypes?

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, Cameron has given a promise to 'ring fence' international aid. I hope Cameron realises he has NOT given a promise to SPEND it.


Richard Gadsden said...

Oh great, let's cut money to the poorest in the world.

If it's inefficient, then I have no problem with fixing the inefficiencies - it means the intended recipients get more. But a budget cut would result in the poor getting stuffed and the dodgy stuff being preserved. You have to change the DFID culture first so they don't waste money.

DFID should be operated like a charity, trying never to spend mony on admin at all, not like a civil service department.

Anonymous said...

As is usually true on any international aid programme, it's really based on poor people in rich countries handing money to rich people in poor countries.
'Twas ever thus.
Stop it all now.

Donut Hinge Party said...

"No. Close it down. On day one. If I paid less tax, I could afford to make charitable donations to real aid organisations."

Yeah, and I could afford to open a home for sexually abused donkeys.

I mean, I won't - I'll piss it all away on coke and whores, but I could AFFORD to, and that's the point.

CrazyDaisy said...


DFID Budget = £8.9Bn 2009-2011 of your hard earned reddies going to lefty tree hugging fuckers that I have to work with as a Partner Across Government.

Worked with them in Iraq - waste of fuckin space employing fuckwit expats thinking there's still an Empire and the money brings status.

Like fuck, it just enables folk to nip out a buy a shit load of rpgs, which I end up wearing.

Chris Paul said...

Who are this IPN again? How are they funded? Where does the £1 Billion "being pissed etc" figure come from? Is it the amount being pissed away per week, per month, per year, per decade, ever since records began? And you're whining about the odd bit of imprecision in the inkies?

Surgeon heal thyself.

PS is this the same story as the Gongos one being tweeted earlier? Didn't Obnoxio claim it was a Tory plan to increase the amount to fake charities??????

Where are the links and the hat tips?

Allan Davies said...

Why on earth would you want to shut down DFID!!?? The uk is renowned the world over as a leader in international aid. The department has bettered many many peoples lives across the globe including those in China and India. In case you were unaware India has the greatest number of poor people living there than any other country in the world and western China away from the relatively better-off coastal areas has poverty in the extreme. If that lunatic Cameron decides to shut down DFID , he will damage the global reputation of Britain irreversably.

Elliot Kane said...

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that governmental aid only ever props up bad governments and does long term damage to the people it is supposed to be helping.

Most of it is blatantly bribery by another name, anyway.

Time to do away with it entirely, I think.

wapping boy said...

Allan Davies said "In case you were unaware India has the greatest number of poor people living there than any other country in the world"

So why is the Indian government spending money on a space programme? Why is it building new submarines as part of its nuclear weapon delivery force? Why should the UK help pick up the tab for India's poor when it's own government would rather spend money sending chimps into space and nukes into Pakistan?

Or is the left-wing rationale behind aid more to do with its endless sense of post-colonial guilt?

Anonymous said...

Chris Paul - the link to the paper is here:

Nick said...

How about instead of cutting £1billion, why don't the Tories just make it more effective? Cutting isn't the answer.

What should appeal to the Tories about DFID is that aid driven in the direct directions will;
a) Help prevent terrorism as there will be less negativity from the developing world directed to the developed world
b) The next big disease pandemic will come from the developing world, most likely Asia. If we help these nations lift themselves out of poverty by improving health systems, this will be less likely. H1N1 has come from the slums of Mexico remember.
C) It will lead to less immigration and less refugees, especially as sea levels rise due to climate change
d) It is the right thing to do

You've also tried to justify cutting £1bn (1/8th of the entire budget) of a department's budget because of £2million you have listed.

I would also like to read the report itself. I suspect that because you haven't used any quotation marks, you have paraphrased the report's findings.

Finally, to end my diatribe, the NHS, Home Office, etc. cost £100s of billions each year. DFID is nothing in comparison and is an easy target.

CockneyDave said...

Before making your mind up on the report it is worth reading up on who the International Policy Network really are.

Interesting to see all the left-wing knockers above when this report is predictable right-wing, corporate-funded and very one sided propaganda.

Ian said...

big question for dave. Will he listen to all these reports showing waste?

Reminds me of that yes, minister episode where sir humphrey says 'if a minister were serious about increasing efficiency, how would he react to a book exposing massive government waste?'

Anonymous said...

IPN Report:
"Also covered by the grant was a “Women and Globalisation Conference” with no declared guests from poor countries, and a celebration in London’s West End of “International Women’s Day” at which guests enjoyed a free buffet, wine and live music."

TUC Report quoted by International Policy Network:

Women and Globalisation Conference
Organised by the SGA Officer and paid for by the TUC, the conference was aimed at trade union and NGO activists with the purpose of raising awareness
of the crucial issues facing women workers and to consider the role of
international trade union solidarity in combating exploitation and

International Women’s Day
The SGA has bid for and won from the TUC’s Development Fund up to
£4,300 for the past three years to organise a reception to celebrate
International Women’s Day. The event has highlighted women’s campaigns around the developing world and been attended by high level women and men from unions, government and civil society organisations.

It looks to me at least that the TUC paid for both these events out of its own money.

Neil A said...

DC has ringfenced the Health and International Development budgets purely as a political move to shore up the Tory party's appeal to potential wavering Centre-Left voters. It is a pretty parallel move to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's policy of adopting Tory spending plans. Take your weakest subject area and neutralise it hard and fast promises.

Having said that, ringfencing the budget just means a commitment to the same level of spending. He can adjust the rules for spending projects as much as he likes. £1.5m taken from the troughs of the Unions could sponsor quite a number of university places for students from the developing world, half of them women, thereby doing a hell of a lot more to advance the position of women and teachers.

And, personally, I don't really care if the IPN are partisan, irrational, frothing at the mouth disciples of Ayn Rand; if the spending identified in the report is true, then they're right. If its not, then someone can correct them.

It seems to me if that billion pounds was spent on aid projects solely in Afghanistan the goodwill it might buy for us could potentially save the lives of a few of our servicemen. Lets give that a go, George...

Reed said...

I think every pound the Treasury raises from British taxpayers should be spent for the benefit of the British public first and foremost.
The thought that Billions of pounds are being sent overseas, much of which is wasted by corrupt governments, while here in the UK many of those taxpayers are told that they cannot have the medicines they need because the country cannot afford it is offensive.

Is this not the kind of thing that organisations like the UN should be doing, on an international basis only. We cannot afford to fix the world's problems on our own.

Ken Dodds Dads Dogs Dead said...

I think Allan Davies' answer here is the perfect example of lefty "we must help everyone" bullshit without looking at the facts.
India and China are putting men in space and spending billions on nuclear weapons. So why the hell are WE paying for their poor? So we can be well thought of on the world stage? Are you for real?

Anonymous said...

Allan Davies will never get a seat in Essex without being in tune with the vast majority of people. Morally, we first need to consider for the needs of UK citizens.