United Kingdom slashes foreign aid spending commitment

26 Novembre, 2020, 16:24 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Rishi Sunak

Sunak warned that the pandemic's cost will create long-term "scarring", with the economy 3% smaller in 2025 than predicted in the budget in March.

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: "This attempt to divide and rule will put [the Chancellor] on a direct collision course with public-service workers".

"There may be light at the end of the tunnel regarding the health emergency, but the economic emergency has only just begun".

The lowest public sector workers won't be affected by the pay freeze but will receive an extra £20 a month.

The UK economy, which tanked into a historic recession owing to pandemic fallout, was forecast to rebound by 5.5 per cent next year and by 6.6 per cent in 2022.

Sunak said the government has pumped 280 billion pounds into the economy to get through the pandemic and that as a result borrowing this fiscal year is set to rise to 394 billion pounds, or 19% of national income, "the highest recorded level of borrowing in our peacetime history". Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said Mr Sunak had delivered "a body blow to the public sector workers" by imposing the wider freeze.

Attempting to justify the pay freeze for non-NHS public-sector workers, Mr Sunak said that private-sector wages had fallen by almost 1 per cent in the six months to September while public-sector wages had risen by almost 4 per cent.

However, we are still more reliant on the public sector than most other parts of the UK.

"During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritize our limited resources on jobs and public services, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid is hard to justify", Reuters quotes Sunak.

The Government faced condemnation from charities and a potential Tory revolt when legislation for the move comes before Parliament.

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While former aid secretary Andrew Mitchell said slashing aid will cause 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children.

It prompted Foreign Office minister Baroness Sugg to quit in protest and, in her resignation letter to Mr Johnson, she called it the "fundamentally wrong" move, telling the Prime Minister it would "diminish our power to influence other nations to do what is right". Reducing next year's funding by around £45 million makes the delivery of the Government's own targets to increase levels of cycling and walking nearly impossible, without the radical shift in transport spending priorities required to decarbonise transport.

Despite the dire national finances, total departmental spending will be £540 billion in 2021-22, a £14.8 billion rise in cash terms.

The Department of Finance said that of the £920m additional funding, £538m had been allocated for Covid relief and the remainder for core departmental spending.

A further combined £28 million in 2021-22, as recommended by the Bew Review, was also confirmed.

The Scottish Government's funding will increase by £2.4 billion, Wales will receive £1.3 billion and there is £0.9 billion for the Northern Ireland Executive.

"Despite keeping the country running during the Covid crisis, supplying Universal Credit and helping businesses access the furlough scheme, the chancellor has justified a pay freeze by pointing to lower wages in the private sector".

Mr Sunak claimed the latter policy of protecting people on lower wages would help to safeguard economic demand.

"Other areas are facing more of a squeeze and some could even be facing cuts after next year", the economic think tank said.

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