THE BLOG

Labour Will Reduce the Amount of Aid Delivered by Consultants

18/04/2015 09:14 BST | Updated 17/06/2015 10:59 BST

The Timesreported on Friday that "Britain is paying professional aid staff up to £1,000 a day to work in Africa and Asia".

And that "spending on consultants has doubled in the past four years to £1.4billion, with the bill for outside help now eating up more than 10 per cent of the aid budget."

A Labour government will not accept this.

We will set out in a Zero Based Review how the Department for International Development's spending on consultants will fall so that more of taxpayers hard earned money reaches those most in need.

The figures released today are yet more evidence that the Government is wasting the international development budget. Money that could and should be spent to tackle global poverty and inequality, addressing historical injustices.

We are proud that Labour MPs passed the historic law that commits Britain to spend 0.7% of our gross national income on international development.

But hard working taxpayers deserve to know that their money is being well spent: dolling out thousands of pounds a day to international consultants is not how Labour will spend the development budget.

The Government has form. The Department for International Development rushed to allocate an arbitrary £1.8billion on a so-called Economic Development Strategy, Doing so wasted huge sums of money by failing to consider alternative uses and by ignoring the need for accountability.

The result of this short-sightedness is clear. Ministers shovelled hundreds of millions of pounds into the Private Infrastructure Development Group - an opaque investment fund.

The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee strongly criticised this decision. In separate reports they slammed "weak oversight and a failure to achieve value for taxpayers money."

Labour has a better plan to spend the international development budget that guarantees better value for money.

My first act as secretary of state will be to rip up the Economic Development Strategy. Labour understands that the private sector is essential to long-term development. But we better understand that it is only by supporting governments to provide the right conditions for firms to thrive, that markets develop.

This is why we will extend the sharing of tax information to developing countries, and increase DfID's help to governments to collect more of their own taxes. Money that will help them provide the health and education needed by workers to get on.

And because business does well when countries do well, we will work with companies to ensure they have sustainable supply chains that are free from slavery, treat their workers fairly, and pay taxes where they are due.

We will also spend money in different areas - in the places that have higher and more sustainable impact. First, we will rebalance DfID's budget to focus funding on the world's poorest countries. These are the areas where money goes furthest and reaches those people most in need.

Next, we will increase DfID's focus in two important areas that this government neglected for political reasons: healthcare and climate change.

Good health is the bedrock of development. Ensuring everyone has access to affordable healthcare is essential to end poverty.

The best way to protect against disease is to build a resilient, government controlled, and government-funded health service.

The returns from investments in healthcare are very large. The World Health Organisation estimates that Universal Health Coverage would stop one hundred million people a year from falling into poverty.

Labour will, therefore, establish a Centre for Universal Health Coverage to provide the support, encouragement, and global partnerships needed to help countries provide free healthcare

The effects of climate change hit the poorest hardest. Eradicating poverty will only be possible if we tackle climate change.

David Cameron is a prisoner of his divided party: split over whether climate change even exists. Given this, it's no surprise the Department for International Development has little to say on the subject.

This is both foolhardy and costly. The effects of climate change hit the poor, the hardest. If we do not tackle climate change, millions of people will fall into poverty.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear, keeping temperature rises to below two degrees requires global emissions need to peak in around 2020 and then rapidly decline. The weaker the action now, the more rapid and costly the reductions will need to be later.

Given this, Labour will expand the role of the department of international development to mitigate the risks of a changing climate, and support sustainable livelihoods for the world's poorest people.

There is a clear choice at the election. Another five years of the Tories' misspending the aid budget because they don't believe in justice for the world's poorest; or Labour's better plan to ensure the development budget is spent well, spent on the right things and properly accounted for.