UK flooding: the charts that show why it's not as simple as diverting foreign aid to prevent floods

The Daily Mail has responded to catastrophic flooding in parts of the UK by linking the country’s inadequate flood defences with the amount it spends on foreign aid

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 28 December 2015 11:35
comments
A Land Rover is driven through floodwater in York city centre, after the River Ouse and the River Foss burst their banks.
A Land Rover is driven through floodwater in York city centre, after the River Ouse and the River Foss burst their banks.

The Daily Mail has responded to catastrophic flooding in parts of the UK by linking the country’s inadequate flood defences with the amount it spends on foreign aid.

“The scenes of misery across Yorkshire and Lancashire triggered outrage last night over Britain sqaundering cash on foreign aid,” the paper said.

It’s not the first time that the Mail has made this claim. In Februrary 2014, it started a petition calling for the Government to divert some of the foreign aid budget to build and maintain flood defences.

Let's take a look at some of its arguments.

"The UK spends 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid as a matter of law."

The UK was the first G7 nation to agree to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid in 2013. That means the that in 2014, overseas aid increased from £11.4 billion to £11.7 billion.

When this contribution was enshrined in law, the UK's international development secretary celebrated the UK's contribution to tackling global challenges such as climate change.

"All of which are the right things to do and firmly in Britain’s own national interest," Justine Greening said.

Loading....

"The Department for International Development is now spending more than £1 billion a year in countries deemed by Transparency International to be the 20 most corrupt in the world."

The countries that received the most bilateral aid in 2014 were Ethiopia (£322 million), India (£279 million) and Pakistan (£266 million).

None of these appear in the bottom 20 of the world's most corrupt countries by Transparency International, the index used by the Daily Mail.

Loading....

The top three priorities of the Department for International Development ​are halfing malaria deaths, immunising children against preventable disease and encouraging children into primary school.

One reason for these priorities is to try and make developing countries safer to prevent refugees - another of the Daily Mail's favourite subjects.

Part of the UK's agreement to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid included greater scrutiny of this spending. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact exists to make sure that aid spending "delivers value for UK customers".

"The latest figures show the anti-flooding budget is down by 14 per cent compared with last year."

UK spending on flooding and erosion

ONS figures show that UK spending on flooding spiked in 2014/15 at £802 million.

This was in response to catastrophic flooding in the winter of 2013/14. Of the £270 million additional funding that was announced, £30 million was allocated for 2013/14, £180 million for 2014/15 and £60 million for 2015/16.

Spending in 2015/16 decreased after the additional funding of the year before - but is still in line with the historical trend, as the chart shows.

Instead of looking to the £11.7 billion the UK spends on aid, some have suggested that cutting subsidies to fossil fuels could be the key.

Analysis from the IMF shows that the UK will spend £26 billion, or 1.37 per cent of GDP, on subsidies for fossil fuels this year - which are proven to cause climate change.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments