UK Government to cut aid to some countries and organisations


The UK government will announce it is cutting funding to some international aid organizations and will put some others on notice that they risk losing funding if they do not improve their performance.

In a major shake-up of its 6.5 billion pound aid budget, Britain will also stop giving aid to more than a dozen countries while focussing its help on the poorest countries and “fragile” or war-torn states, officials said.

The decisions, to be announced by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell Tuesday, follow a nine-month review by Britain’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of its overseas aid budget, one of the world’s biggest, Reuters reports.

Overseas development aid is one of the few areas that have been spared sharp public spending cuts aimed at curbing Britain’s record peacetime budget deficit. But the coalition is keen to show it is getting value for money.

The coalition’s decision to ring-fence overseas aid while cutting public services at home has been criticised by some British newspapers. A poll for the Mail Sunday last October showed that four out of five British voters thought it was wrong to protect aid spending while cutting defence.

Britain spent 4 billion pounds on bilateral aid in 2009/10 and 2.5 billion through international organizations, such as the European Commission, United Nations and World Bank.

International agencies Britain judges to be poor performers, including some U.N. and World Bank organizations, will be stripped of around 50 million pounds of funding, officials said.

The coalition will boost support to “star performers” such as U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, whose British funding will double, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

Other international agencies will be put on so-called “special measures” — meaning the British government will work with them to make reforms. Britain could cut off their funding in two years’ time if their performance does not improve.

Britain could pull out of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, one of the U.N. agencies fighting hunger, unless it improves its “patchy” performance, officials have said.

Britain has also said it will freeze aid to India at around 280 million pounds a year while stopping aid to emerging economies seen as no longer needing it, including China, Russia, Serbia, Cambodia and Moldova and Vietnam.

The new plan will concentrate British efforts on the most deep-rooted poverty, with Ethiopia, Pakistan and Bangladesh likely to be the biggest recipients.

Britain will focus 30 percent of its aid budget on countries judged to be fragile or on the brink of war, with Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan expected to be beneficiaries.