Coalition ends 'awareness projects'

The government yesterday pulled the plug on UK-based "awareness projects" funded from the overseas aid budget. Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said he was imposing an immediate freeze on new funding for projects, and was withdrawing support totalling half a million pounds from five existing schemes. Some £6.5m committed by the Department for International Development under the Labour administration to a new programme called The Global Development Engagement Fund will be suspended, said Mr Mitchell, a Conservative member of the coalition.

All other UK-based projects will be scrutinised in a drive to refocus aid spending on priority areas. Projects will be tested to ensure they are providing maximum value for money, Mr Mitchell said, with a halt on funding for any project that fails to meet tough results-based criteria.

"People want to see British aid money saving lives and educating children in the world's poorest countries," he added.

"It is crucial that our money is spent where it makes the most difference. Today I send a clear signal: value for money will be our top priority for aid."

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