Charities including Cafod and Christian Aid have warned the cut to UK foreign aid will cause further “devastation” and undermine the UK’s credibility at the G7 summit.
They told prime minister Boris Johnson that there was “no justifiable economic need” for a reduction of almost £4 billion a year.
As US President Joe Biden flew in this morning to attend G7 in Cornwall, Johnson is increasingly under pressure over the cut.
The government has said it will not meet the 0.7 per cent target in the coming financial year and spending will be reduced to 0.5 per cent of national income.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak reported that the cut is a “temporary” measure to cope with the deficit caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and made a vague commitment that the 0.7 per cent target would return. In Parliament, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle blocked a vote on the topic that would have been binding.
Cafod said: “This is a missed opportunity for the government to show what global Britain leadership looks like, ensuring that some of the world’s marginalised and vulnerable communities, struggling to cope with the impacts of this pandemic, survive.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury posted on Twitter that he was praying the aid cut would be reversed. Justice and Peace Scotland tweeted: “UK spent more than £8,000 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2020 whilst cutting aid to the poorest worldwide.”
Fr Denis Blackledge SJ, parish priest of St Francis Xavier Church in Everton, went on hunger strike for 24 hours, stating that as the G7 summit begins, cutting the aid budget is “the wrong action to take”.
The agreement by G7 countries to make it harder for the world’s largest companies to avoid paying taxes does not go far enough for many.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Human Development, tweeted his congratulations to G7 finance ministers for supporting a new corporate tax system but said: “15 per cent is woefully low.”
Christian Aid said: “We call on governments to raise the rate and ensure the design of any new system delivers significant tax payments to lower-income countries in particular.”