- MPs have called on ministers to take control of the UK’s international aid budget
- A Commons committee claimed the taxpayer was being ripped off by aid firms
- One firm was accused of making millions in profits from delivering foreign aid
- MPs warned ministers must deal with the ‘fundamental flaws’ in the system
Private contractors are behaving ‘appallingly’ by overcharging the taxpayer for providing foreign aid, MPs said last night.
Ministers must take action so the public can have confidence that firms are not ‘getting rich’ on the back of the UK aid budget, the Commons international development committee demanded.
The MPs warned there were ‘fundamental flaws’ in the working practices of some of the organisations responsible for handling tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
International Development secretary Priti Patel has been warned taxpayers are being overcharged by contractors working on projects funded by the UK international aid budget
They concluded that one of the largest aid contractors, Adam Smith International (ASI), acted improperly by making multimillion-pound profits, and warned that this was not an isolated incident.
In a damning report, they highlighted another example of an unscrupulous contractor charging the aid ministry more than double the true cost of the staff who worked on a project.
The report also called on ministers to use the opportunity of Brexit to strengthen controls on private contractors by blacklisting those who waste money.
At present, Dfid officials blame EU procurement regulations for stopping them taking into account a firm’s previous failure when they put in a bid for a contract.
The MPs said that, outside the EU, Britain will be able to take this into account, just as the US aid department does.
The MPs said the Department for International Development (Dfid) must take a ‘more robust approach’ towards regulating contractors, who distribute an increasing amount of Britain’s £12billion aid budget.