True to his promise, chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the UK will return to offering 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) in overseas aid over the next four years.
The spending will grow from the 0.5 per cent rate it is now before the parliament’s end in 2024, earlier than the office for Budget Responsibility forecast in March.
Speaking at his Autumn Budget today, Sunak said: “Our improving fiscals situation means we will meet our obligations to the worlds’ poorest.
“Today’s forecast show that we are in fact scheduled to return to 0.7 per cent in 2024 and 2025.”
The UK temporarily slashed the money it gave to other countries in foreign aid earlier this year, after the pandemic put vast pressure on the country’s finances.
The move received wide condemnation from charities and activists, leaving countries stripped of billions in aid. The 0.7 per cent in 2020 was valued at around £14.5bn, according to provisional data the government issued in April.
The budget revealed that the government will also continue to invest in the British Council and BBC World Service “in recognition of the important soft-power role these organisations play” on the global stage.
UK country director of Global Citizen, Marie Rumsby, criticised that the Budget failed to explain what will happen in the three to four year period before foreign aid is increased.
“He has said nothing on what might happen between now and then,” she said, adding that, “Without the commitment to protect our spending in low income countries now, the UK will not live up to its stated intention to be the kind of genuinely problem solving, burden sharing, outward-looking country it aspires to be. On the eve of COP26, this is an alarming situation to be in.”
The Budget will also provide more than £31bn to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, designed to fund global action on climate change and clean energy, health, trade and security.
Locally – funding will be made available to the 20,000 Afghan citizens who have settled in the UK after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, including £20,520 per person for Local Authorities who settle families.
An additional £17m has also been freed up to help fund the costs of housing, which is alongside a £20m pot of what the Budget referred to as “flexible funding”.