International development minister Priti Patel has been at the helm of the Department for International Development for just two months, and yet she's already wielding the axe.
This week, she told her fellow MPs that too much of Britain's US$15.8 billion aid budget has been "stolen or wasted."
"We need to face facts, too much aid doesn't find its way through to those who really need it. And too often, money is spent without a proper focus on results and outcomes that allow the poorest to stand on their own two feet," Ms. Patel said.
And on Wednesday, her deputy James Wharton indicated that it isn't just how poor or needy a country is that will dictate how Ms. Patel allocates her multi-billion dollar budget.
The department is considering cutting overseas aid to countries that refuse to accept their own foreign national offenders being deported from the UK.
James Wharton said that such proposals were part of the "debate and discussion" on a potential new shake-up of UK foreign aid.
Stop sending millions of pounds in foreign aid to world superpowers with better high speed rail than the UK has #solveukpoverty— Whitey McPrivilege (@yankeebrit77) September 6, 2016
Wharton was responding to a call in parliament by Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab, who urged the government to change the criteria for bilateral aid to penalize countries "refusing point blank to accept" the return of foreign criminals.
Also speaking to the British newspaper, the Sun, Dominic Raab said:
"Priti Patel is shaking things up, and she's right to look at ways of stopping countries having a free-ride, gladly accepting millions of taxpayers' money, but point blank refusing to take back criminals who clog up UK jails."
Countries such as Jamaica, Pakistan and Nigeria have refused in the past to accept back offenders released from British jails.
Figures published earlier this year revealed that there are currently 13,000 foreign criminals awaiting deportation from the UK, a number said to include hundreds of Jamaican and Nigerians.
Mr. Wharton gave little further detail on the potential policy, merely adding:
"We want to ensure that every penny we spend is spent wisely."
The controversial proposal comes just hours after Ms. Patel announced she wants to radically alter the UK's aid budget to focus on priorities such as reducing the number of migrants fleeing to European shores, and creating jobs in poor countries. She said she wants to align UK foreign aid with "core Tory values."
Priti Patel says UK foreign aid will now be based on "core Tory values".— Tom Pride (@ThomasPride) September 14, 2016
So hand it all over to the wealthiest and let the poorest rot then?
Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper, she said: "It rightly infuriates taxpayers when money that is intended for the world's poorest people is stolen or wasted on inappropriate projects. I am infuriated.
"Let us be clear: if we allow extreme poverty, instability and humanitarian crises to go unchecked, the consequences will eventually be felt just as deeply back in Britain as they are abroad… I want to use our aid budget to directly address the great global challenges that affect the UK — like creating jobs in poorer countries so as to reduce the pressure for mass migration to Europe."
Her comments have sparked anxiety among some aid agencies, who've expressed concerns that British aid funding could be diverted away from supporting the world's poorest people towards facilitating jobs and trade.
Our must read on uk foreign policy— Media Diversified (@WritersofColour) September 15, 2016
The Empire Strikes Back…. Priti Patel replaces Foreign Aid with Bribery Budget https://t.co/F2GbyqWWAg
Aaron Oxley, executive director of charity Results UK, called Ms. Patel's comments "challenging reading", adding:
"Virtually all UK aid money is already spent incredibly well on high-impact activities that are focused on eliminating poverty and have a proven track record of delivering results," Mr. Oxley said.
However, Ms. Patel insists that the aid industry should be open to hearing concerns over inefficiency.
"Some participants in the aid debate are resistant to criticism and sometimes unwilling to understand or even acknowledge genuine concerns," she said.
Despite suggesting that her department will undergo significant changes, Ms. Patel has stuck to the Conservative government's commitment to spend 0.7 % of national output on overseas aid.