Great Britain

Foreign Aid anger as £35million sent to Kenya to build 'green affordable homes'

The Government is under fire for investing £35million of taxpayers' cash to help fund 10,000 "green affordable homes" in Kenya. Critics say the money could pay for a whole year's rent for nearly 3,000 people in the UK. The £35million comes on top of £53million of investment in "Kenyan affordable housing" that had already been announced.

Boris Johnson with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta

Boris Johnson with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta at Chequers (Image: Peter Cziborra/PA)

In the UK, the average monthly rent in June hit an “record high of £1,007” ‑ up nine percent on two years ago, according to the HomeLet Rental Index. The Taxpayers’ Alliance was alarmed that £35million ‑ the equivalent of 2,896 annual rents in the UK ‑ is being used to “anchor” a £58million fund to finance the construction of the 10,000 homes in Kenya.

The Government says the cash will be "repaid through sale returns and rental incomes" and insists it should not be seen as a grant.

However, TaxPayers' Alliance spokeswoman Danielle Boxall said: "Politicians must be on another planet if they think splurging cash abroad is better than spending it at home.

"Taxpayers were fed up with funds being sent overseas long before we were hit with the worst recession in a generation. Now more than ever, taxpayers' money must be kept for vital frontline services at home." 

On Wednesday Boris Johnson welcomed Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta to Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence.

A UK Government spokesman defended the spending in Kenya, saying: “This UK aid funding is an investment and will be repaid through sale returns and rental incomes from the properties, representing clear value for money for taxpayers. 

"Projects like this UK-Kenya green housing deal are undoubtedly in our national interest given the risk climate change poses to our economy and national security."

The Government expects the investment to be repaid within 10 years, with the cash then available for other projects. The funding is predicted to lead to at least 13,500 new jobs, with workers gaining skills in green standards and building technology.

The latest foreign aid spending is unlikely to trigger uproar on Tory benches. The Government has cut the level of overseas development spending from 0.7 percent of GDP to 0.5 percent.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, a prominent defender of the cut in aid spending, was relaxed about the investment in Kenyan housing.

He said: “Due to the generosity of the UK taxpayer, we’re not only building back better in the UK, we’re gonna be building back better around the world through our aid budget, aren’t we?”

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