What is the UK’s current overseas aid budget? Jeremy Hunt rules out return to 0.7% target

Jeremy Hunt said due to a ‘significant shock to the public finances’, it was not possible to return to 0.7 per cent  of gross national income  (PA Wire)
Jeremy Hunt said due to a ‘significant shock to the public finances’, it was not possible to return to 0.7 per cent of gross national income (PA Wire)

Jeremy Hunt announced in his Autumn Statement that foreign aid would remain at 0.5 per cent until April 2028, going against the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto pledge.

Due to a “significant shock to the public finances,” the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was not possible to return to 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI). He said this situation would remain “until the fiscal situation allows”.

Speaking in Parliament, he added: “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.”

What is the UK’s overseas aid budget?

The UK pledged to spend at least 0.7 per cent of GNI on foreign aid in 1970.

This was part of a UN pact including another 30 wealthy countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

The UK aid budget sits at around £11 billion, which includes £4 billion going to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank. Around £7 billion is administered by the UK directly and more than half is spent domestically, including around £3 billion on housing refugees, according to the Centre for Global Development’s analysis.

The Treasury said the Government was in fact prioritising essential overseas aid funding.

It said: “Across Government, there are significant pressures on the ODA budget due to the costs of accepting refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine as well as wider migration challenges”.

When did the UK reduce the overseas aid budget?

The Government reduced overseas aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of GNI in 2020.

The move was to help free up more cash for domestic spending during the Covid pandemic, despite a law that preserves the higher figure.

The Treasury has stated there were “significant pressures” on aid budgets. It said that its “intention is to return to 0.7 per cent when the fiscal situation allows”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was in charge of the cut when he was finance minister, had said that foreign spending should return to the original 0.7 per cent of economic output by 2024, or 2025 at the latest.