Rishi Sunak urged recovery of British aid spending after invasion of Ukraine | Staff

Rishi Sunak is being urged to increase UK aid spending in this week’s mini-budget after an in-depth study by a leading think tank showed that government austerity had the biggest negative impact on the world’s poorest countries.

The campaign group One said the aid budget was at “breaking point” and would come under renewed pressure due to humanitarian and refugee spending in response to the war in Ukraine.

The British director of One, Romilly Greenhill, called on the chancellor to use his Wednesday spring statement to accelerate returns to Britain, with 0.7% of national income being spent on foreign aid.

A study by the think tank National Institute of Economic and Social Research – commissioned by One – concluded the £4 billion cutting help impacted both the UK and recipient countries.

“Recent cuts to UK aid provide the UK with negligible direct savings, are at the expense of the UK economy and have significant humanitarian and social costs in many poor countries,” the NIESR report said.

Sunak announced a cut in aid spending to 0.5% of national income in November 2020 as the Treasury faced the rising costs of the Covid-19 pandemic, but promised a return in the following year’s budget to 0.7% by the end of parliament, provided certain conditions are met.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility is likely to report on Wednesday that public finances are in better shape than expected at the time of last October’s budget, giving the chancellor some additional purchasing power.

NIESR said aid was value for money, helped recipient countries financially, but also increased UK national production. It said cutting foreign aid has cost the UK between £322 million and £423 million in lost exports.

“The Chancellor argued that the reduction in aid is necessary for tax reasons. However, this document argues that aid budget recovery would not significantly worsen the UK’s fiscal position, and could in fact support UK exports, while also supporting the livelihoods and food security of many poor people in many developing countries. .”

Greenhill said: “We are in a different world than when the aid budget was first cut. Circumstances have changed since the Chancellor announced the austerity measures in 2020 and the justification used at the time no longer applies.

“The government cannot deliver on its own agenda with the current budget, and with more and more spending added, UK aid is being stretched to breaking point. It pushes existing anti-poverty work forward.”

A government spokesperson said: “The UK has a long history of helping others in their hours of need and we are one of the largest lenders in the world, above the OECD average.

“We will continue to help protect people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and have already provided £220 million in aid, including life-saving medical supplies, shelter and hygiene kits, and pledged £25 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal, as part of our biggest assist game ever.”

One separate study of the impact of the war in Ukraine on the rest of the world showed that rising food and fuel prices and increasingly fragile supply chains risked pushing millions of people into extreme poverty, destabilizing and destabilizing parts of the African continent. lead to new geopolitical alliances.

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“The conflict in Ukraine is already driving up wheat prices, which in turn is hitting people in Africa most affected by food insecurity, while many of these people have had to cut their essential nutrition programs,” Greenhill said.

“It is absolutely true that people fleeing violence in Ukraine should be supported and people facing famine in East Africa should be supported. But by cutting our aid budget unnecessarily, the UK is unable to do both, forcing itself into a situation where it has to choose between people in crisis.”

The NIESR report said aid cuts had been tough in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, up to 1.5 million people in the region could remain malnourished.

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