Charities say the most vulnerable are already hurting - and even senior Tories say that children will die as a result
Vicious Tory cuts to UK aid spending are causing devastation for the world’s poorest, charities have said.
Boris Johnson’s administration says it intends to plough ahead with plans to slash the international aid budget by almost £4 billion a year.
It faces a Commons rebellion on the matter today (Monday, 7 June), with even hardline aid sceptics on the Tory side shocked at their impact, and worried about the UK’s world standing as it hosts the G7 summit.
However, Johnson’s administration insists it intends to push through the reduction of overseas aid spend from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, ripping up a manifesto commitment in the process.
The government says it has to do this to help economic recover from Covid, and has said it will return to its 0.7% commitment when the time is right.
However, many are worried the cut will be permanent - and charities say the effects are already being felt.
This is outlined in a letter signed by 1,700 charities, academics and business leaders to the prime minister.
In it, the likes of Save the Children, WWF UK and Cafod said the reduction had already led to the closure of feeding centres and clinics - and forced the cancellation of projects including water sanitation and training for healthcare workers.
The letter states: "While other G7 countries have stepped up their aid budget, the UK is the only one to have rowed back on its commitments”, adding that doing this during the pandemic was a "double blow to the world's poorest communities".
The government says it will still spend more than £10bn on foreign aid in 2021.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said it was a "temporary" reduction, which was "entirely reasonable" given that the pandemic had caused a "once-in-300-year economic interruption".
As TFN published, Tory rebels were trying to block the cut on technical grounds – but it was unclear whether this would be allowed to go to a vote.
Senior Tory David Davis said: "Historically, I am a critic of aid spending but doing it this way is really so harmful.
"if you're a small child and suddenly you get dirty water, you get an infection from it and you die, temporary doesn't mean much.
"If you're going to kill people with this, which I think is going to be the outcome in many areas, we need to reverse those immediately".
Former prime minister Theresa May is also understood to be among the rebels.