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£44.6 million of UK foreign aid budget used to export the nanny state overseas, finds new IEA report

IEA publishes "Nanny State on Tour"

The amount of UK foreign aid spent on nanny state interventions has skyrocketed, according to a new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Foreign aid has been instrumental in controlling and eradicating infectious conditions abroad, but British public health organisations have increasingly used the budget for lifestyle interventions in foreign countries – and the taxpayer is footing the bill.

The report, Nanny State On Tour, found that £44.6 million of UK taxpayers’ money has been spent on nanny state programmes between 2005 – 2018, with over 80% of that money spent since 2016. The three biggest recipients were China (£7.9 million), India (£2.2 million) and Colombia (£1.8 million).

The growing percentage of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) spent by non-DfID departments has coincided with a growth in money spent on nanny state interventions rather than poverty reduction. While DfID is bound by law to put poverty reduction at the heart of its programmes, other departments are not and, as a result, spend a greater proportion of their funds in middle-income countries and on ‘lifestyle’ projects.

The report highlights numerous foreign aid budget spending projects designed to change behaviour, including:

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