Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope’s visit to the UK?

The Department for International Development (DfID) spent nearly £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK. It represents close to one-fifth of the cost.

A Written Ministerial Statement today reveals that the Department for International Development (DfID) spent nearly £2m on the Pope’s successful visit to the UK. The document states that £1.85m was transferred to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office “in respect of the papal visit.”

This follows a written Parliamentary Answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 November which said:

“Ministers agreed that costs of the state visit falling to the Government would be divided among departments with an interest in the visit and involved in the planning process.”

Left Foot Forward asked DfID what the justification for this was. A spokesperson said:

“The Catholic Church’s huge global influence plays a vital role in the international fight against poverty. The visit took place just days before the critical UN MDG Summit in New York, and was an opportunity for the Pope to speak out on behalf of the billion Catholics across the world and put pressure on world leaders to take action against global poverty.

“The Pope’s influence has been illustrated through previous interventions such as his letter to G8 leaders ahead of the L’Aquila Summit last year, calling for action on hunger. G8 leaders responded with a US$ 20 billion food security initiative.”

With the total cost of the papal visit reported to be £10 million, DfID’s contribution represents almost one-fifth of the total – higher than might have been expected for a department geared at international development.

Only last week during International Development Questions, Conservative MP Gary Streeter questioned whether the advocacy departments of NGOs represented value for money. Perhaps he should ask his own Government whether it’s really a wise use of DfID money to pay nearly £2 million to host a speech?

The Coalition has recently widened the definition of what counts as aid. This example sets a very poor precedent indeed for that change.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

28 Responses to “Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope’s visit to the UK?”

  1. LCID

    Does £2m for a speech represent value for money for UK aid? The Coalition seems to think so… http://fb.me/y6LROeuA

  2. Pope On Tour

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK?: … Pope's successful visit to the UK. The document state… http://bit.ly/g0m0QD

  3. kate blagojevic

    ripples of rage running round @wdmuk office RT @leftfootfwd Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? http://bit.ly/gm5HfR

  4. World Development

    Why did DfID spend £2 million on the Pope's visit to the UK? http://bit.ly/i9Qepq

Comments are closed.