A third of UK overseas aid spent internally to support refugees
The Foreign Office said the new figures were due to support offered to Ukrainians fleeing from the conflict with Russia, and the resettlement of Afghans after the Taliban took over
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has promised to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel, with more than 45,000 making the journey last year (Photo: Getty Images)
Britain is spending almost a third of its overseas aid budget on supporting refugees and asylum seekers inside the UK, according to official figures published on Wednesday (5).
The new figures provoked dismay from charities and the country’s independent aid watchdog.
Nearly £3.7 billion was spent internally on supporting refugees in 2022, according to Foreign Office figures. OECD rules permit so-called in-donor refugee costs (IDRC) to be counted as Official Development Assistance (ODA).
The UK spent £12.8 billion on overseas aid in 2022, with IDRC increasing by £1.1 billion to £3.7 billion. In contrast, £1.1 billion is allocated in aid for the whole of Africa.
“Today’s figures provide a further stark reminder that this is a government robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Sophie Powell, chief of UK advocacy at the Christian Aid charity.
“We must reject the false choice between responding at home and fulfilling the UK’s responsibilities to the world’s most in need,” she added.
The Foreign Office said the new figures were due to support offered to Ukrainians fleeing from the conflict with Russia, and the resettlement of Afghans after the Taliban took over.
Africa remains the largest recipient of UK aid, but saw a £200-million fall in 2021.
Tamsyn Barton, chief commissioner of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which scrutinises use of the aid budget, called on the government to channel more money overseas.
“While it is permitted within the rules, allowing the soaring costs of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK to take such a high proportion of the aid budget meant that very little was available for humanitarian emergencies like the Pakistan floods and the drought in Somalia,” she said.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has promised to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel, with more than 45,000 making the journey last year.
His government announced on Wednesday that it had leased a barge to house hundreds of asylum seekers off the coast of south England.