Millions in aid still going to middle-income countries like India and China

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Millions of pounds in aid is still being given to middle-income countries despite the Government giving the impression that all support was being phased out, a watchdog has found.

The Department for International Development (DFID) did not "clearly" communicate to the public that some funding would go to China and India, according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).

It found that even where DFID programmes had been brought to an end, "significant UK aid flows have continued through other channels".

The report said: "While DFID's public statements on the subject have been accurate, the earlier publicity given to exit from China and India potentially created an impression that all aid was being phased out.

"Against that background, the reasons for continuing and then scaling up assistance have not been clearly communicated to the UK public."

The Government announced it would stop sending aid to countries like India and China because their rapid economic growth had made it unnecessary, but it said some "technical assistance" would continue.

In its review, ICAI found DFID had ended all assistance on domestic development issues in China, but continues to spend £8 million to £10 million a year on other programmes. In India, the department has a technical assistance fund of £30 million for 2016-17 and plans to spend £40 million in development capital investment - loans and equity investments.

The report said: "While we do not question the policy decision to continue bilateral support for India, DFID's public statements emphasised the decision to discontinue financial aid, potentially creating the impression that all aid was being phased out.

"This lack of clarity was noted by the International Development Committee, which commented that DFID was 'diffident about admitting' its continued spending in middle-income countries."

A DFID spokesman said: "We are disappointed that ICAI has rushed the publication of this inaccurate report that simply does not tell the whole story.

"As countries build upon their economic development, Britain is determined to strengthen strategic partnerships that facilitate trade, boost business and combat poverty.

"DFID's work supports these partnerships in a manner that provides value for money, always helps the world's poorest and is open and transparent to the British public."