As fast as staff are being cut back at Department for International Development, consultants are being appointed to fly around the world business class. Duke University has just been handed £5 million to produce a report on effective aid spending; another US consultancy has been given £10 million to advise Indian state governments on how to run their health services; management consultants for Christian Aid have been given a £24 million contract to advise Indians on how to narrow the gap between rich and poor. So while the Chinese, Germans and Americans compete to build roads abroad, the British are still following a paternalistic programme of advice and handouts.

At around £11 billion a year, Britain is second only to the US in terms of foreign aid spending – but we’re not doing the best we can with the money, Alice Thomson believes

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