The cuts in foreign aid spending will remain in effect until at least 2024-25, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said.
Last year, the government broke an election commitment when it cut spending to 0.5% of national income, blaming economic pressures from Covid.
During his review, Mr. Sunak said forecasts suggested the cut could be reversed in three years.
WaterAid said this would mean another three years of dirty water and infant mortality in vulnerable communities.
And Bond – a network of international development organizations – accused the government of “accounting deception” for using the aid budget to pay for excess vaccine doses, debt relief and special drawing rights – a term for complex donations. of currency from the International Monetary Fund.
Last week, the government’s high-level advisers on climate change expressed concern over the Treasury’s efforts to broaden the definition of what is included in overseas aid.
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The promise to spend at least 0.7% of the country’s income on international aid became a legal requirement in 2015.
In the last general election, Conservatives told voters they would continue to maintain spending levels.
However, in 2020, the government announced it would cut the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP.
Defending the reduction, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government spent £ 407 billion during the pandemic and that “there must inevitably be consequences”.
The Treasury said it will return to 0.7% levels, but only when its official figures predict two things.
First, that the government would not borrow money for day-to-day expenses.
And second, that underlying debt would decrease as a percentage of national income.
In defining his budget, Sunak said that “forecasts show that a return to 0.7% is expected in 2024-25, before the end of Parliament”.
He said the UK “will remain a development superpower and one of the largest ODAs [Overseas Development Assistance] donors in the G7 ”.
The notes from the budget tell the true story of aid abroad.
The chancellor does not promise to raise the spending target to 0.7 percent of national income in 2024.
He is simply saying that it might be possible by then.
The so-called “tax tests” are flexible to say the least.
The budget documents make it very clear that “if future forecasts worsen”, then any decision on the objective of the aid will be made at the moment.
The chancellor also fails to note that by 2024 there could be a different government with different priorities.
And in the following years, there is a growing debate not only about the size of the aid budget, but also about what is being spent.
The budget documents seem to imply – without being explicit – that the Chancellor will start counting different spending streams towards 0.5% of the foreign aid target.
We await clarity from the Treasury, but this could include the cost of vaccine donations overseas and special foreign reserve donations from the International Monetary Fund.
Charities fear this will mean several billion pounds less will be spent on humanitarian and development aid.
So the headline of the Budget is that the UK’s billion pound aid cuts will continue for at least another three years and in the meantime far less could be spent on development and humanitarian support than before.
Responding to this announcement, Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Does Rishi Sunak really expect praise for a return to 0.7% of GDP for development aid by 2024/5? This is still absolutely shameful. The cut. it should be reversed now. “
Sarah Champion of Labor – who chairs the International Development Committee – said it was “good news”, but added: “I will celebrate when the poorest in the world start to see the money.”
“The shoulders of the poorest”
Children’s charity World Vision UK said it was “pleased to see” the chancellor’s intention, but expressed concern that levels will not rise for at least three years.
Meanwhile WaterAid has warned that: “Ten million people will be missing each year until the budget is restored.
“The Chancellor’s delay in rehabilitation means another three years of dirty water, further infant mortality and a wider spread of disease for millions of people in vulnerable communities.”
Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, accused the government of “once again balancing the bills on the shoulders of the poorest and undermining confidence in the UK around the world”.
“This makes the UK’s position in tackling global inequality even more questionable, severely undermining crucial COP26 negotiations.”
Save the Children said any decision to include other costs in the aid budget means existing aid programs face cuts of around £ 3.6 billion.
- Autumn declaration by the Chancellor
- Rishi Sunak
- UK aid
- Budget 2021
- Caroline Lucas
- International aid
- Sara Champion
Who will lose from UK aid cuts?
- July 13
Government wins vote to block foreign aid cuts
- July 13
Gates and others to partially cover UK aid cuts
- July 11
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