The Department for International Development is often criticised for being profligate.
This is unsurprising. After all, it is written into law that 0.7% of Britain’s GDP – currently about £12 billion – must be spent on foreign aid.
This has led to some truly crazy situations where hundreds of millions of pounds have found their way into the pockets of corrupt officials in India and Africa rather than being given to those in need.
To her credit, new secretary of state Priti Patel is trying to address this vast problem by seizing control of the foreign aid budget and suggesting new ways of using it, such as funding trade deals:
UK’s £12bn aid budget could be spent on winning Brexit trade deals instead, Priti Patel suggests. Should our aid budget be spent elsewhere? pic.twitter.com/KR915MjEyu
— LBC (@LBC) October 25, 2016
But it turns out that DfID’s budget isn’t just being sent abroad and used in highly questionable ways, it’s also being spent closer to home – namely on educating the children of DfID employees who are based in Britain.
New figures seen by Heat Street show that in the last financial year £133,892 of DfID’s budget was spent on paying school fees for UK-based staff.
The department has refused to state how many employees are in receipt of this enviable perk. It says the number is so low that individuals could be identified.
What kind of defence is that?
This figure may be a mere speck of dust within DfID’s budget, but it’s taken the government months to admit to spending taxpayers cash in this way, proving that it recognises the sensitivity of the situation.
How can it be justified?