Conservatives go against 2019 manifesto pledge to keep foreign aid at 0.7% of gross national income

Jeremy Hunt delivers his Autumn Statement to Parliament  (PA)
Jeremy Hunt delivers his Autumn Statement to Parliament (PA)

Jeremy Hunt has gone back on the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto promise to keep foreign aid spending at 0.7 per cent of the UK’s gross national income.

The chancellor announced as part of Thursday’s Autumn Statement that the spend will stay at 0.5 per cent until April 2028.

He said it was not possible to return to 0.7 per cent due to a "significant shock to public finances".

Mr Hunt told Parliament: "It will not be possible to return to the 0.7 per cent target until the fiscal situation allows.

"We remain fully committed to the target and the plans I have set out today assume that ODA [official development assistance] spending will remain around 0.5 per cent for the forecast period."

The Treasury said previously there were "significant pressures" on aid budgets and Mr Hunt’s move was not unexpected.

It is understood the Treasury was looking to make the savings having spent budgets on housing and feeding refugees from conflict-torn Ukraine and Afghanistan as well as migrants who have crossed the Channel.

Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, criticised the move.

She wrote on Twitter: “The Tory manifesto promised 0.7 per cent but that promise was only kept for one year.

“Over the past decade aid spending has been a rollercoaster but the long-lasting legacy is the trashing of DFID [Department for International Development], in a historic act of institutional vandalism destroying Britain’s international reputation.”