As much as a third of Britain’s heavily cut foreign aid budget is now spent on housing refugees in the UK, the international development committee says in today’s report.
Describing this trend as unsustainable and unprecedented, the commission also finds that UK aid spending per refugee has almost tripled, rising from £6,700 in 2019 to £21,700 in 2021, according to figures from the last three years.
A select committee says the government has spent so much of its aid budget on refugees in the UK and says it is not required by international rules defining legal aid.
Committee members say they have run into a hurdle in getting information from the government on the exact current spending, but say more than £1bn of the UK aid budget is known to have been spent on refugees in the UK in 2021, representing almost 10% of the total. the entire budget.
The report shows that refugee spending per capita exceeds any other OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) country in 2018-21 and is around three times the DAC average of £7,400. The figures will bolster those claiming that Whitehall’s main owner of the foreign aid budget, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department, has been unable to maintain control of Home Office spending on refugees.
Additional Home Office estimates include plans to spend more than £2.6bn in Official Development Assistance (ODA) between 2022 and 2023, nearly £2bn more than the main estimate of 300%. The main reason is that between March 2020 and September 2022, the number of asylum seekers staying in “emergency accommodation”, which is largely made up of hotels, increased from less than 2,600 to more than 37,000.
Partly as a result, the report found that in 2021, UK spending on bilateral aid in least developed countries (LDCs) fell to £1.4bn, which was around 12% of the aid budget. This 50% drop in aid to the least developed countries meant a reduction of more than £900m in aid spending in the UK.
In the face of Foreign Office opposition to its current position, the commission is instead appealing to claims by the respected Center for Global Development (CGD), which estimates that the amount of aid spent on the cost of refugees in the country in 2022 could exceed £3 billion, an increase of over 300% from 2020
The charity Save the Children has estimated these costs could be as high as £4.5 billion in 2022-23, a third of the total aid budget.
The rules only allow the Home Office to search the ODA budget to cover the cost of a refugee’s first year in the UK.
The commission states that the FCDO has reduced ODA spending by £1.7bn from the originally estimated budget “to support the reallocation of the ODA budget between governments”. The figures show an increase in ODA of almost £2 billion to the Home Office compared to the initial budget for this year.
Sarah Champion, chair of the committee, said: “Strong efforts have been made to prevent us from seeing the full picture. The government has deliberately tried to prevent us from exercising our controlling role. Our attempts to access simple information on how the government spends the ODA budget in the UK have come to nothing.