UK aid spending risks disadvantaging the poorest people in the world because it is too heavily focused on boosting trade and investment in Britain, the Commons International Development Committee said. The government's strategy for promoting economic growth in poorer countries had placed "insufficient focus" on helping those most in need. Labour MP Stephen Twigg, suggested ministers were prioritising “profit margins” over alleviating poverty.
MPs accused ministers of having failed to prioritise "poverty reduction and on helping the very poorest and most vulnerable". As a result, they said, UK policy risks disadvantaging some of the most vulnerable people in developing countries, including children, women and people with disabilities.
"Although the Secretary of State refers to the 'boost' in trade and investment with developing countries as 'a clear win-win for Britain and the world’s poorest, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact have highlighted that economic growth produces winners and losers. It is acceptable for UK companies and the UK government to have ‘wins’ in trade and investment with least developed countries as long as it can be guaranteed that the most marginalised in developing countries do not become the resulting ‘losers’."
Twigg said: “DFID believes that more economic growth leads to fewer people in poverty. While it’s acceptable for UK companies and the government to score ‘wins’ in trade and investment in the world’s least developed countries, this is not a trade-off. It’s not just profit margins that count.. Girls and women, disabled and young people will lose out unless DFID undertakes to protect them."