Overseas aid ‘could be slashed by £4bn’ as public finances are under strain

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Britain is legally committed to spending 0.7 percent of national income on overseas support but the Government is not ruling out a temporary reduction. Cutting the budget to 0.5 percent would save more than £4billion in the next financial year.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It is legitimate to consider where savings can be made when public finances are under huge strain.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking for ways to save cash in his spending review of departmental budgets next week.

But Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said cutting aid spending would be “an extraordinary decision” that would “diminish” the UK on the world stage.

He said: “Covid has to be beaten everywhere and Britain’s development budget is playing a key role in vulnerable parts of the world where no effective health system exists.”

The target was set by the UN in 1970 and enshrined in law by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015.

But the legislation also states the goal might not always be met if our national income changes, it affects borrowing, or circumstances alter outside the UK.

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