Do you think DfID solely uses taxpayers’ money to help the poor overseas? Think again. A new report from International Policy Network shows that the Department for International Development (DfID) has spent nearly £1bn on spurious ‘communications’ activities since 2000, with £140 million spent this year alone.
The research documents how DfID is channeling millions of public money through a select coterie of NGOs to fund ideological “awareness" and “advocacy" activities, which support DfID's (erroneous) view that state-funded social services are the best way to tackle poverty.
In other words, DfID is using taxpayers’ money to spread its own political propaganda in the UK. Much of this money never gets near the poor and needy. This is not just harmless guff: thanks to DfID funding, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was able to persuade the Gambian government to ban all-inclusive package holidays. That hardly helps foster economic development.
DfID is also using public money to set up fake charities to peddle its own agenda. Connections for Development (CfD) received start-up funding of over £600,000 from DfID to represent black and ethnic minorities “on issues relating to international development." If the need for such a charity is so pressing, how come it has to rely on the government for 100 per cent of its funding?
Overtly partisan organizations that have little to do with development are also cashing in on the DfID payola. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has received over £1.2m since 2003. Most of this money has funded TUC lobbying, new staff and even an “international buffet and wine" event in London.
This kind of spending reveals a worrying disregard for democracy on the part of the government. It is not right that public funding should go – frequently without tender - to unelected and largely unaccountable bodies to promote ideological views on development.
It stinks, and the next government should not hesitate to take an axe to it.