Mordaunt: DfID should justify its spending

17 Nov 17

The UK government’s aid department must justify its spending to the public in the same way charities do, the new international development secretary has said. 

Penny Mordaunt said, in an article for The Daily Telegraph, the Department for International Development has to gain public confidence in the same way as charities do by improving clarity and transparency. 

Mordaunt wrote: “The question we face is whether people would choose to donate to DfID, as they do to so many other organisations working overseas.”

She pledged to further the work of her predecessor to ensure value for money and believed the objective of helping the world’s poorest could only be achieved by spending 0.7% of gross national income. 

“DfID has made a start on opening up funding to a wider range of partners including smaller charities,” wrote Mordaunt.  

“And it has increased its focus on economic development and sustainable programmes,” she said, adding that the department could still go do more, such as in the area of science and technology sectors. 

Mordaunt said the achievements of the department belonged to the public and wanted to ensure a “return on investments for the taxpayer’s purse”.

“For it is not politicians and legislation that ultimately protect our world-leading commitment to aid. It is the trust of the public that their money is being spent wisely.”

The article is the first intervention from the new secretary since she replaced Priti Patel, who resigned last week admitting that her unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials during her private holiday had “lacked transparency”.

Mordaunt pointed out that the British people are “generous”, feel a moral obligation to help struggling nations and are motivated to act when “they see suffering and injustice”.

“There are people who are alive because of British aid, people who can walk and see because of our aid, and children who can read and write because of aid,” she said.

“We are building health systems and helping countries to grow so that they can stand on their own two feet.”

But she pointed out that these achievements did not belong to the government. “They belong to the taxpayers who fund these life-saving efforts, to our amazing NGOs, and to the great British humanitarian heroes who risk their lives to help others,” she wrote.

Last month, Patel’s announced new funding for the Commonwealth Development Corporation but the Liberal Democrats said it should have come with a commitment to transparency about how overseas aid money is spent

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