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The Independent

Additional £800m minimize in UK abroad assist spending ‘snuck out’ by ministers

An additional £800m is being slashed from the UK’s overseas aid spending, days after Jeremy Hunt pledged that the nation would stay a world chief “in tackling world poverty”.

The 30 per cent minimize in direct assist to needy international locations – for the subsequent two years – follows these tasks being hit by a steep funds minimize final yr, a senior MP warned.

Sarah Champion, chair of the Commons worldwide improvement committee, additionally accused the international secretary James Cleverly of burying the unhealthy information as he introduced {that a} “pause” on non-essential spending was being lifted.

The Labour MP stated it was an try and disguise the £800m minimize from spending in 2021-22, which might “stability the books on the backs of its bilateral companions, the tasks which have already seen the harshest cuts”.

“The devastation the world’s poorest individuals face with out help will likely be profound,” Ms Champion added, referring to warnings of famine in Somalia and neighbouring international locations.

The Overseas, Commonwealth and Growth Workplace refused to reply any questions from The Unbiased concerning the recent cuts.

Mr Cleverly’s assertion stated solely: “We are actually in a position to elevate the pause on ODA [official development assistance] spending and exercise and can act swiftly to handle our bilateral programmes this monetary yr.”

The Unbiased revealed in August that billions of pounds’ worth of additional cuts were looming except ministers deserted guidelines diverting 1 / 4 of funds to cowl the price of internet hosting Ukrainian refugees within the UK.

The alarm was raised over a controversial choice to incorporate spending on the 118,000 Ukrainians welcomed to Britain inside a funds decreased to solely 0.5 per cent of GDP after which capped.

Beneath strain, Mr Hunt introduced an additional £1bn on this monetary yr and £1.5bn in 2023-24 to assist meet these prices – however not sufficient to keep away from the additional cuts. He instructed MPs in his autumn assertion that the UK remained “the third-highest donor within the G7 final yr” and would “proceed to play a management function in tackling world poverty”.

The federal government has damaged a pledge to revive assist funding to 0.7 per cent of nationwide revenue in 2024, because the nation heads into recession. However it’s anticipated to spend round 0.55 per cent – not the 0.5 per cent supposed – over the subsequent two years, because the “pause” on non-essential spending failed to seek out all of the sought-after cuts.

Ms Champion added: “The international secretary commits to being extra clear concerning the authorities’s spend, however, with out warning, his division has snuck out an announcement on the UK’s spending on international assist, with no significant figures connected.

“Not like the earlier Division for Worldwide Growth, we see no substantial element, no affect evaluation or predictability of funding to offer the poorest on the earth hope that we are going to honour our improvement pledges. What we will glean from the assertion is the ODA allocation is down by £0.8bn in comparison with the final monetary yr.”

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