The Department for International Development (DFID) said: “It is not the case that giving aid to a country with high levels of corruption is the same as giving aid to that country’s government.”
DFID was responding to the latest British newspaper story criticising the UK government’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP each year on foreign aid, as recommended by the UN.
This became law in 2015, making the UK just one of a handful of developed countries that are meeting the UN target.
Only Sweden (1.01 per cent), Luxembourg (one per cent), Norway (0.99 per cent) and Denmark (0.72 per cent) give more in foreign aid as a percentage of GDP than the UK.
Last year, UK government budgeted £14 billion for international aid, equivalent to 0.7 per cent of the country’s GDP.
A DFID spokesman said: “UK aid only goes to trusted partners to help those living in extreme poverty, not directly to the governments of the most corrupt countries.
“DFID has strict measures in place to protect [UK] taxpayers’ money, including regular audits and fraud assessments.
“Our approach to international development is just one example of how the government is protecting and promoting our national security and global influence.”
DFID said UK aid was “saving lives in countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen that are home to some of the poorest people in the world”.
The DFID statement added: “We have always been clear that by working in the most fragile and dangerous parts of the world, UK aid makes this country safe by tackling problems which would otherwise arrive on our doorstep.
“DFID has strict processes in place to ensure UK aid is not misspent or diverted.
“These include due diligence assessments of partners, fraud risk assessments, risk monitoring during projects – such as monitoring visits and financial spot checks – and regular independent project audits.
“We also have a counter-fraud and whistleblowing unit with dedicated resource assigned to investigating misappropriation of funds,” DFID said.