Warning signs: The Prosperity Fund and the hijacking of UK aid

Warning signs: The Prosperity Fund and the hijacking of UK aid

Type: Reports
Date: 7 June 2022
Campaigns: Aid

The UK government’s recently published international development strategy promises to use aid to support “free trade” and “free markets”, alongside promoting British expertise and building “economic partnerships” with countries through increased trade and investment.

But behind this argument lies a hardcore free market agenda, which is far more about benefiting big business and financial investors in the City of London than it is about reducing poverty.

In this paper, we examine Britain’s Prosperity Fund, a project that was given more than £1 billion in UK aid between 2015 and 2021. We discover little evidence that this type of development spending contributes to poverty reduction, and much to suggest it is primarily focused on self-interested corporate welfare, encouraging governments in the global south to open up their economies to foreign direct investment and privatise public services, thus increasing commercial opportunities for British businesses.

Rather than tackling poverty, like aid is supposed to (and, right now, legally required to) this type of development agenda is really about increasing the UK’s profits and international influence.

Download: Warning signs