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Osborne announces £1.17 billion cut in UK aid budget in Autumn Statement

29 November 2011

Today Chancellor George Osborne has announced an effective £1.17billion cut in the aid budget.

He said;

Let me turn to other areas of public spending, starting with overseas aid.

This Government will stick by the commitments it has made to the poorest people in the world by increasing our international development budget – and the whole House should be proud of the help our country is providing to eradicate disease, save lives and educate children.

But the spending plans of the Department for International Development meant that the UK was on course to exceed 0.7% of national income in 2013.

That I don’t think can be justified and so we are adjusting those plans so we don’t overshoot the target.

Make no mistake – this ‘adjustment’ represents a cut to the amount that DFID will get versus the aid pledged in the 2010 Spending Review;

AS2011 revised aid figures
Sources: (1) 2010 Spending Review p.85 http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_completereport.pdf. (2) 2011 Autumn Statement p.46 http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/autumn_statement.pdf

.

The 0.7% target was set as a minimum rich countries should be spending on UK aid, never as a limit.

The £1.17 billion that has just been cut is a huge amount of money – more than the entire amount DFID currently spends on health, or the amount of aid the UK has pledged to Bangladesh over the next 4 years.

From widening the definition of what counts as aid (allowing them, for example, to push the £90m cost of running the BBC World Service onto DFID), to publicly supporting a global Robin Hood Tax only to lobby against it privately at the G20 summit, once again this Conservative led government is being completely disingenuous.

No longer can they claim they are not balancing the books on the back of the world’s poorest after today.

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