Britain is the third largest donor of foreign aid in the world, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Britain gave the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) $18.01 billion (£14.4 billion) to aid international development in 2016, accounting for nearly 13 percent of the group’s budget. The Committee’s total spending last year came to $142.6 billion (£114 billion).
Net aid from the 29 members of the DAC also set a record high last year, but the latest OECD report shows that much of that money was spent on supporting refugees already in Europe.
Some countries were found to have spent more than 20 percent of their annual official development assistance (ODA) budget domestically. Migrants coming into Europe cost Germany alone $24.7 billion (£19.8 billion).
“Supporting refugees arriving in Europe is absolutely the right thing to do, and something we as Europeans should be proud of,” said Amy Dodd, chair of CONCORD, a European confederation of relief and development of NGOs.
“But counting in-donor refugee costs as aid – money spent in the donor country which never reaches a developing country – is of questionable development impact at best, and certainly an attempt to artificially inflate countries’ aid figures,” she said.
Britain gave almost one in every eight dollars spent in overseas aid, following the world’s largest donors, the United States and Germany. It was also one of only six nations that met the United Nations’ target, contributing 0.7 percent or more of their gross national income to ODA.
“The 0.7 is a measure of how much [gross national income] is each year and it’s an arbitrary figure. We should be spending based on what people need,” said Taxpayers’ Alliance research director Alex Wild.