David Cameron was today forced to defend sending £12 billion abroad in foreign aid when confronted by a woman who may die because the NHS will not fund the cancer treatment she desperately needs.
The Prime Minister was taken to task during a live radio interview this morning where he denied Britain was wrong to have increased funding to other states by 37 per cent despite huge cuts to home budgets.
A non-Hodgkin lymphoma sufferer, who used the name Anna because some of her family do not know she is ill, asked him why taxpayers’ money was going to other countries – such as India, even though it can afford its own space programme – and not to people like her.
India also has almost three times as many billionaires as the UK.
The 68-year-old from north London has stopped cancer treatment because of a dangerous allergic reaction, and the drug she needs is available in Germany but not in her area.
Tragically she is also a full-time carer for her husband, but is so ill he has been forced to go into a care home and she is living alone at home on only £68 per week.
The Prime Minister told LBC listeners he would look at her case but the UK has a ‘moral obligation to help people in other countries even when times are tough,’ he said.
‘Breaking promises to the poorest people in the world would not be the right thing to do,’ he added, saying without the aid more foreigners would seek asylum in Britain.
Speaking to MailOnline Anna said Mr Cameron should be making sure people in Britain are well looked after first.
‘I understand what he is saying, but I would say to him if your family is starving you wouldn’t go and feed your neighbours. He should be looking after people here.
‘I have offered to pay my own airfare to Germany to get this treatment, but every day I wake up waiting for news of whether a charity can raise the £250,000 I need to pay for it. I know I may be one of many people in this situation and I don’t think that is right.
‘We put all this money into Europe but we are unable to go there and get something for it.
‘My husband has gone into a care home because I cannot care for him myself. I am just consumed with grief.
‘All I want is to get my husband back,’ she said tearfully, ‘My life has stopped completely and I haven’t even told my whole family that I am ill. My grandchildren are frightened of my wig and I just want them back here too.’
The Prime Minister said that the Coalition had increased spending on the NHS.
‘It is very important that people get treatment,’ he told LBC, ‘We have not cut spending to the NHS we have increased it.
‘We have the cancer drugs fund and we are looking to extend that.
‘We are having a tough time at the moment but we must keep promises to the poorest countries in the world.’
Mr Cameron is under huge pressure to freeze or even cut Britain’s foreign aid spending.
India is still receiving nearly £300million from British taxpayers in aid, for example, despite the country being rich enough to launch its own space programme.
Their own ministers even described the sum they received as ‘peanuts’.
A powerful committee of peers attacked the Prime Minister’s pledge to increase aid spending by 37 per cent to more than £12billion a year in order to meet an ‘arbitrary’ United Nations target.
They said they fully supported humanitarian aid for disaster zones. But they pointed out that it accounts for less than 10 per cent of the vast budget of the Department for International Development (DfID).
In a devastating verdict they warned that the rush to increase spending ‘risks reducing the quality, value for money and accountability’ of the aid programme.
The finding is a major embarrassment for Mr Cameron who is said, while in opposition, to have adopted the target of spending 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid, partly to help ‘detoxify’ the Conservatives’ image as ‘the Nasty Party’.
The cross-party economic affairs committee said ministers seemed more interested in the amount of money they were spending on aid than the results they were achieving.
The committee’s chairman, former Tory Cabinet minister Lord MacGregor, said: ‘We were unanimous in our view that legislation for a 0.7 per cent target is inappropriate, and that the Government should reconsider.
‘We believe aid should be judged by the criteria of effectiveness and value for money, not by whether a specific arbitrary target is reached.’