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Foreign aid budget ‘out of control’: High street stores M&S and Waitrose given MILLIONS

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Retail giants were handed the enormous taxpayer-funded grants for training and improving conditions for farmers and factory workers.

But it was revealed some of the money actually helped to pay for Sainsbury’s Kenyan staff to go on an all-expenses paid trip to the UK.

A dozen suppliers made the journey to Britain, which even included a visit to a London rugby stadium, as part of a £161,106 project – half of which was paid for by UK taxpayers.

The supermarket also ran a publicly-funded scheme which produced a Swahili version of the British radio series The Archers – at a cost of £300,310.

Sainsbury's storeGETTY

Sainsbury’s allegedly used taxpayer money to fund a trip to the UK from Kenya

Now the cash injections have been savaged by critics, who branded the scheme as “out of control”.

Last night, prominent critic Peter Bone MP said: “A lot of people are telling me they can’t get care for their elderly parents yet billions of pounds are going to projects like this.

“It is out of control. These are big companies, making millions in profits, and they don’t need the Government to hand out money to improve conditions.”

Sainsbury's Kenya staff at UK rugby groundSAINSBURYS

Kenya suppliers went on an all-expenses paid trip to the UK using the money

Marks and Spencer storesGETTY

Stores handed the cash include Marks and Spencer

A lot of people are telling me they can’t get care for their elderly parents yet billions of pounds are going to projects like this.

Peter Bone MP

He added: “There’s a huge PR benefit for the companies and it doesn’t need DFID.

“It’s extraordinary that ordinary taxpayers are subsidising big companies in this way.”

Under the Trade and Global Value Chains Initiative, retailers were urged to help improve working conditions for their suppliers in third world countries.

Half of the £4.9 million budget was handed by DFID to firms such as Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, with the big-name stores pledging an equal amount.

However most of the retail giants handed grants make huge multi-million pound profits each year, and critics say the firms should be funding these projects themselves.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s, which recently recorded half-year profits of £277 million, said: “The aim of the projects was to improve the lives of workers, farmers and their families through education.”

Money has been used for a wide variety of schemes, from providing training sessions on safety to making sure unemployed people were given advice on ‘life skills’.

Project Upskill, run by UK consultants with the help of River Island, Paul Smith and Morrisons and worth £332,566, was meant to teach 1,500 workers at 300 Bangladeshi factories about ethics, using tablet computers.

Money, pound notesGETTY

Millions was handed out to UK high street stores

WaitroseGETTY

Waitrose was also handed cash

But the devices never arrived and only 184 people in 51 factories had been trained.

A review of the scheme concluded: “It is too early to say definitely if this pilot programme can have a systemic impact, but it is clear that it has not to date.”

The revelations come amid growing public anger over the government’s commitment to spend £12.4 billion on foreign aid this year – despite the NHS facing a disastrous financial crisis.