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As part of his spending review plans, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a temporary cut to the UK’s spending on foreign aid from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of gross national income. The decision to cut overseas aid contributions has been criticised by MPs from across Parliament, who are warning of the devastating consequences it could have on lives in less developed countries. LBC presenter Nick Ferrari clashed with Labour’s Barry Sheerman, who told BBC Politics Live the decision “signalled Britain’s withdrawal from the rest of the world”.
Mr Sheerman said: “It’s a truly retrograde step, I’m deeply disappointed.
“You don’t just give aid to other countries out of charity, you give aid to other countries for perfectly good economic reasons.
“When you give an aid package to a country, it improves their own economic position, it improves the GDP of that country, it improves the income for the people of that country.
“What do they then do? They then buy our goods and services. It’s a way of increasing wealth around the world.”
Mr Ferrari shot back: “I respect your position, and you’re a very good advocate for this.
“But my listeners would say to you, where is the auditory trail for that? How does it help them?
“Where are the success stories? Where can it be shown that we’ve put money into a country that hasn’t ended up, as people often say, buying Mercedes cars or Ferrari cars for dictators?
“Where have the orders come back and it’s boom boom Britain? That is what my listeners would challenge you on, Barry. Point to some orders that actually underscore what you’ve just said.”
The Labour MP insisted that it would be possible to point to positive examples “in many different countries”.
However, he admitted he didn’t know any “off the top of his head”.
Mr Sheerman also claimed that the budget cut had “signalled a withdrawal from the rest of the world” at a time when Britain needed to “project power and influence”.
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It is believed that a one-off cut to the aid target would make a saving of about £4billion.
However, fears have arisen that the temporary reduction could be made permanent.
The commitment to spend 0.7 percent of UK income on foreign aid was enshrined into law in 2015.
Foreign aid spending is linked to the UK’s gross national income, which has badly hit by the pandemic.
It is understood Mr Sunak’s reforms will require new legislation to be passed by Parliament.
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