Britain warns it could cut foreign aid to developing countries

The UK could cut foreign aid to developing countries that fail to invest in their own people 

The UK could cut foreign aid to developing countries that fail to invest in their own people, the international development secretary has said.

Penny Mordaunt said the British government, which gives out £13bn of foreign aid a year, “will not invest when others should be putting their hands in their pockets”.

The government is committed to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. Mordaunt said she wanted governments of developing countries to "step up and take responsibility".

"If it chooses not to, that will inform our decisions around our funding," she added.

Aid groups responded with concern, saying a “significant need” for aid remains across all low income countries, even among those who invest in health and social care.

Mordaunt said that the public had “nagging but legitimate doubts” about where aid money was going. She said it was no longer enough for a project just to be achieving good things.

“But our focus will increasingly be on helping developing countries stand on their own feet and build sustainable health and education systems that they invest in themselves.”

Her comments come two weeks after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK's aid budget will be shifted to projects that promote its interests.

The UK government launched a new aid strategy in 2015, following bitter criticism of development spending, including money given to middle-income countries India and China, which signalled a shift towards a more results-focused direction.

Mordaunt was appointed international development secretary in November, following Priti Patel’s resignation over he unofficial meetings with senior Israelis.

Romilly Greenhill, of the One Campaign, said: “It’s absolutely right that countries need to invest in their own people and they are doing that in many cases, in health and education. The evidence suggests that even if they collect taxes and invest in the health and social sector, there is still a significant funding gap across all low income countries. There remains a significant need for aid.”

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