Mordaunt: UK to ‘reset’ way it spends international aid

22 Jun 18

The way the UK spends its international aid budget will be “reset” to help the world’s poor and win back the trust of “sceptical” British taxpayers, Penny Mordaunt has said.

The public has become sceptical about how aid money is spent, as politicians “have sometimes failed to lead those it serves”, the international development secretary said at the Chatham House London conference yesterday.

“They are sceptical about how their leaders are spending their money,” she told the delegates at the event in London.

“It’s not a lack of logic or a lack of love that causes scepticism about the aid budget. It’s a lack of trust.”

She said that UK aid would be reformed to ensure it was “fit for purpose” in a world facing both diplomatic and economic challenges, while responding to the public’s concerns in light of recent charity scandals.

This comes just weeks after MPs called for UK official development assistance to be more focused on helping the world’s poorest people, in a report by the International Development Committee.

The report warned that cross-government spending marked as ODA did not have a clear poverty reduction target, which undermines UK aid.

But Mordaunt said yesterday the Department for International Development would work with other departments to get the most out of UK aid money.

“We are resetting our work across government so that UK aid can deliver for the whole of Whitehall – and the whole of Whitehall can deliver the global goals.

“Within Whitehall, we will continue to work with other government departments to ensure that we are spending in the most effective and efficient way possible,” she said.

DfID will also invest more to build capacity to ensure that the quality, consistency and coherence of aid spending is in line with the UK national interest and Sustainable Development Goals.  

But it is not just the government that will be delivering the new ‘Global Britain’, in a post-Brexit world, she added.

Without the help of the British public, UK aid will not be able to do the work it aspires to.

 “Global Britain is about looking out into the world and seizing the opportunities that come from those freedoms we get from leaving the EU,” she said.

The secretary of state stressed that though the world “seems to be falling apart”, with a rise of populism, economic crime and conflict, it is “actually becoming a better place”.

Poverty has been reduced, the world has become more resilient and able to withstand natural disasters and education and health services have become more accessible, she added.

Equality is improving, although sometimes too at too slow of a pace, Mordaunt said.

“We seem to lack confidence in the future. The problem is that all of that good news is sometimes eclipsed by what seems to be a crisis of leadership in the west.

“People feel let down by their leaders and by the institutions, with good reasons,” she said, adding that this is why the trust must be rebuilt.

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