Britain's aid payouts 'are open to corruption abroad', says NAO

Britain's £461m overseas aid budget for tackling poverty could be open to fraud because of the lack of controls over the way it is spent in some of the poorest countries in the world, the public spending watchdog has warned. The National Audit Office said the Government's switch from project-linked funding to wider "budget support" for countries in an attempt to reduce poverty had led to "significant risks" that that the funds would be "misapplied for political reasons or through corruption".

Calling for more controls to be imposed by the Department for International Development, the report highlighted internationally recognised data showing that the worst countries for corruption included some of the biggest recipients of budget support, including Pakistan (£52.5m), Vietnam (£34.5m), Zambia (£23.3m) and Nepal (£5.4m). "Donors cannot track their own contributions individually once paid to partner governments and instead monitor the government's overall expenditure and progress against its agreed strategy," said the watchdog.

"Evidence on the extent to which budget support has yielded better value for money than other ways of delivering aid, or has had an impact on income poverty, is not conclusive."

Edward Leigh, the Tory MP and chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: "Although the department pays attention to issues of corruption when it risk-assesses countries, it does not know how much UK money is lost through political misuse or corruption. Until this is improved, public confidence in these programmes will not be as good as it should be."

But Max Lawson, the senior policy adviser at Oxfam, defended the system of budget support as "a vital and effective use of UK aid". Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, said: "I welcome the NAO's detailed report, and its recognition of the many benefits that budget support provides.

"Budget support helps governments provide more health and education services for their people, and have more ambitious plans and programmes to reduce poverty... Many of the points made by the NAO, and other evaluations, have been taken on board."

Mr Alexander added: "We assess the risks carefully and have safeguards to prevent the misuse of funds. If things go off track we take action. If necessary we reduce or suspend support or deliver it in a different way."

The shadow International Development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, called for immediate and decisive action to bolster the scrutiny of British aid. "Whenever Britain gives budget support to a poor country, 5 per cent of the total amount should be earmarked for helping parliament, civil society and audit institutions track where the money is going," said the Tory MP.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence