LONDON: Britain’s foreign aid budget will not be restored to its legally binding target level within the next five years, finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday.
When he was in Hunt’s job, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cut aid spending from 0.7 percent of gross national income to 0.5 percent, reducing the £15 billion ($19 billion) budget to £10 billion.
The move in late 2020 caused outrage but Sunak insisted at the time it was only a temporary measure because of huge government pandemic spending.
Sunak told parliament the following year that economic forecasts indicated a “return to 0.7 (percent) in (20)24-25”.
But appearing before a cross-party committee of MPs in parliament on Wednesday, Hunt was asked why there were no provisions for restoring the higher rate in his recent budget announcement.
“I don’t think the fiscal position makes it possible to do that,” he said. “I would say this, that we are very committed to do that when it is affordable to do so.”
Sunak and his boss at the time Boris Johnson faced a rebellion about the cut from lawmakers, including Hunt, who was not a cabinet minister at the time.
Former prime minister Theresa May joined him to vote against it, accusing the government of breaking an election promise and turning its back on the world’s poor.