UK government plans 80% cuts to ‘world-leading’ anti-corruption work

The National Crime Agency (NCA) could also face cuts from the funding it receives through Overseas Development Assistance. Last week, the NCA, which houses the international anti-corruption centre, was part of an operation that led to the UK returning £4.2m of Nigerian funds stolen by a former Nigeran governor.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge accused the British government of “turning its back on the world”, warning that: “Corruption and criminality will flourish in developing countries. This is a betrayal of the idea of ‘Global Britain.’”

Spotlight on Corruption’s Sue Hawley said that the cuts “could undermine not just the UK’s stated aim to act as a force for good globally, but also seriously curtail the UK’s ability to stem and seize corrupt money laundered through the UK’s financial system”.

“The UK has been a global leader in using aid money to fund law enforcement to track down corrupt funds and it risks losing a lot of credibility on the global stage if these cuts are as deep as rumoured,” she added.

Other government departments, including the Home Office, have some responsibility for international anti-corruption work, and these budgets are expected to be slashed, too.

Britain’s aid budget is due to fall from about £15bn before the pandemic to £9bn this year, owing to the smaller size of the post-COVID economy and a reduction in Britain’s commitment to aid spending. By contrast, the government’s widely criticised test-and-trace system – run by Conservative peer Dido Harding – is set to cost £37bn.

The British government has refused repeated calls to publish details of planned aid cuts, which have to be signed off by the end of the month.

Aid agencies, many of which were cut by as much as a fifth last year, have complained that they have been kept in the dark about the future of their work.

“The British government has completely abdicated responsibility,” an aid specialist involved in a Foreign Office-funded project in Nigeria told openDemocracy on condition of anonymity. “They still aren’t saying what is happening. People don’t know if their work will be there next month.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are still working through what this means for individual programmes and decisions have not yet been made.”

The National Crime Agency said that its budget for the coming year had yet to be agreed.

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» UK government plans 80% cuts to ‘world-leading’ anti-corruption work | Peter Geoghegan | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/16/uk-government-plans-80-cuts-to-world-leading-anti-corruption-work/ | 2022-09-29T04:20:40+00:00
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