Foreign aid budget to cost every family £500: How 17 foreign aid fat cats are earning more than £90,000
The Prime Minister was forced on to the defensive over the controversial decision to lavish billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid at a time when services at home are facing unprecedented cuts.
He was also facing a growing Tory backlash, with 70 per cent opposed to the increase in the international aid budget at a time when defence spending is being slashed.
A member of the public confronted Mr Cameron over the issue at a public meeting in Nottingham yesterday, telling him: ‘ Charity should begin at home.’
The woman, who did not give her name, told the Prime Minister: ‘There are millions of pounds of debt in the country yet you are still sending billions and billions abroad in national aid. Surely charity should begin at home.’
But Mr Cameron defended the decision, claiming that it had been a difficult call to make but that the total being devoted to aid was ‘not a huge amount’.
He said the Government was right to stick to its promise to increase foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP.
‘All the three parties have, bravely, made this decision that we are going to stick to the big international promise we made to the poorest in the world. It is not a huge amount, 0.7 per cent,’ he said.
He argued that the cuts at home were essential, adding: ‘But at the same time we are still living in a world where there are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day, who are desperately poor, and I think we do have a moral responsibility, as one of the richest countries in the world, not to give up on them just because we are having a difficult time at home.’
Chancellor George Osborne on Wednesday that the budget of the Department for International Development would be increased by 37 per cent in real terms.
The rise angered many Tories at a time when the Government is having to defend deep cuts in vital services.
Detailed figures in the spending review reveal that the overall increase in the aid budget is even higher.
Figures show that the UK spending on foreign aid – including the amount spent by departments other than DFID – will rise by 50 per cent, increasing from £8.4billion this year to £12.6billion in 2014.
The £12.6billion figure is equal to £479 for every household in Britain.
Aid charities welcomed the move but it was criticised by right-of-centre think tank the Adam Smith Institute, which said it ‘beggars belief’ DFID should enjoy a boost in its budget at a time when the police, universities and the armed forces were facing cuts.
A survey of 1,145 Tory members by the website ConservativeHome found that the rise in the international aid budget was the only measure in the spending review which members opposed.
Some 70 per cent said it was the ‘wrong decision’. By contrast, the controversial decision to remove child benefit from higher rate taxpayers was opposed by only 10 per cent of Tories.
Many Tory MPs are also unhappy about the move. Right-winger Peter Bone said the international aid budget should be made to include Britain’s EU contributions.
Fellow Tory Philip Hollobone said: ‘There needs to be a lot more explanation to the public, because the natural reaction is to say: “Why are we spending money abroad when we have such problems at home?”‘
The foreign aid budget has long been controversial. Until recently DFID spent millions of pounds a year in relatively well-off countries like China and Russia. Tens of millions of pounds will continue to go to India.
Officials insist that the rise in the budget will be well spent and will help halve the number of deaths from malaria and save the lives of 50,000 pregnant women.
Rich pickings helping the poor: The 17 foreign aid fat cats are earning more than £90,000By JACK DOYLE
The huge pay packets of Whitehall’s international development ‘fat cats’ have been revealed amid mounting anger at the decision to increase overseas aid despite deep spending cuts at home.
Figures show 17 bureaucrats at the Department for International Development earn between £90,000 and £170,000.
Their total salary of £1,795,000 is more than the amount DFID spends on donations to some of the world’s poorest countries.
And they preside over a budget that will rise 37 per cent in the next four years – while sums set aside for defence, policing and prisons suffer drastic cuts.
David Cameron felt the full force of public anger over huge increases in the international aid budget – as it emerged the move will cost every family in Britain almost £500 a year.
After Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review, the budget for international aid will be larger than that of the Home Office by 2014. There, both the policing grant and money spent on the UK Border Agency will fall 20 per cent.
The revelations have already provoked concern among Tory backbenchers and grassroots supporters over the Coalition’s priorities.
They condemned the scale of senior bureaucrats’ pay deals as ‘inappropriate’ for a department which is charged with improving the lot of some of the world’s poorest people.
According to one estimate, the sum spent on the 17 bureaucrats could feed 2,500 poor African
families for a year and it comes to more than the total DFID aid to Cameroon, Congo, Mali and the Ivory Coast.
Fiona McEvoy, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘DFID did well out of the Government’s Spending Review in a climate of cuts but they should still be encouraged to tighten their belts.
‘Many taxpayers will be shocked to see how much of their budget is being spent on executive pay rather than on worthy causes overseas.
‘It looks inappropriate for these bosses to be enjoying bumper salaries, both in terms of the UK
financial climate and their commitment to fighting poverty in poorer countries.’
Official figures showed the most senior civil servant at DFID, Permanent Secretary Nemat Shafik,
earns £170,000. Mark Lowcock, director general of the department’s ‘country programme’ is paid
£135,000. Finance boss Richard Calvert is paid £125,000.
Backbench Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Think what this sum of money could do to provide fresh
drinking water or microfinance in Africa. If we are serious about increasing the aid budget the very
least we should be doing is spending the money on aid, not bloated civil servant salaries in Whitehall.
Many of my constituents who are absorbing the impact of the spending cuts on their family finances
will be baffled as to why we are financing DFID fat cat salaries.’
Overall, DFID spent more than £200million on staff and administration costs last year.
In Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, DFID was told its resource spending will increase
by nearly £4billion That will take it from £6.3billion to £9.4billion by 2015 – a 37 per cent rise.
By comparison, the Home Office budget for 2010/11 is £9.3bn and will be £7.8billion in 2014/15. The
amount DFID uses for investment – known as capital spending – will also rise, by £400million, to £2billion.
Its overall budget will therefore rise to an unprecedented £11.5billion.
Both Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath merged aid departments into the Foreign Office when
they came to power.
But before the election David Cameron pledged both to keep DFID and protect its spending.
Since then the Daily Mail has revealed executives at an anti-poverty quango set up by DFID were
spending tens of thousands on expenses. Senior staff at the Commonwealth Development Corporation-stayed in five star hotels.
DFID said it would slash administration costs by 33 per cent over the next five years and that would include cutting senior civil servant salaries.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: ‘The money DFID spends savings lives
in developing countries is protected. However, DFID – like all Government Departments – is cutting our administration costs by 33 per cent. Reducing senior service salaries is one way we are reaching