Aid watchdog right to sound alarm at UK’s 'Global Britain' aid agenda

Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

Responding to today’s publication of an information note by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact on the UK’s government’s ‘mutual prosperity’ agenda (1), Daniel Willis, campaigns and policy manager at Global Justice Now, said:

“As today’s report from ICAI highlights, the increasing influence of the ‘Global Britain’ agenda since the Brexit vote has accelerated the financialisation of UK aid policy with the City of London taking a leading role. There are numerous risks associated with this strategy: not only is it ineffective at tackling poverty, it means that aid money is being spent on private schools, cosmetic surgery clinics and environmentally damaging industries in developing countries. British financial institutions are not the best placed organisations to judge how development funding should be spent.

“The situation is far worse than ICAI actually states because promoting trade and investment is not necessarily a positive thing for both parties. In fact, this agenda is likely to exacerbate global inequalities by undermining regulation overseas, robbing developing countries of the tools they need to fight poverty, inequality and climate change. Furthermore, as previous ICAI reports have highlighted (2), there is a complete lack of transparency and accountability over how aid is spent, and the government has virtually no idea if its investments are actually effective at reducing poverty.
 
“This is particularly worrying as the government prepares for a UK-Africa Investment summit in January 2020 (3) at which it aims to further promote the City of London as a leading development finance hub. This is not development as we know it, but a new scramble for Africa with British banks at the helm.”

Notes

1.    The use of UK aid to enhance mutual prosperity, ICAI, 23 October 2019, https://icai.independent.gov.uk/mutual-prosperity-information-note/
2.    CDC’s investments in low-income and fragile states, March 2019, https://icai.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/CDC-26.03.19.pdf
3.    UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, 20 January 2020, https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/uk-africa-investment-summit-2020


Photo: Jason Hawkes/Wikipedia

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