Boris Johnson faces backlash over foreign aid cut as Bill Gates ‘joins charities shaming the UK by donating £100m to prop up projects’
- Boris Johnson facing fresh backlash over cut in the UK’s foreign aid funding level
- Aid spending has been cut from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5% amid Covid economic hit
- Bill Gates and charities expected to donate £100million to help fill the shortfall
Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash over the UK’s foreign aid cut amid claims Bill Gates is set to join charities donating millions of pounds to prop up projects.
Labour and the Archbishop of Canterbury have ramped up calls for the Government to reverse its temporary reduction in funding – which comes after coronavirus hammered the economy.
Philanthropists including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are expected to give £100million to a one-year plan that would partially make up the shortfall on programmes to tackle disease.
The move by the consortium, which also includes the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, is said to be aimed at embarrassing the PM, according to the Sunday Times.
The UK has long been one of the few countries that sticks to the international target of committing 0.7 per cent of national income to aid spending.
But the government has cut that level 0.5 per cent for the time being, equating to a £4 billion decrease.
Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash over the UK’s foreign aid cut amid claims Bill Gates (pictured) is set to join charities donating millions of pounds to prop up projects
The move by the consortium, which also includes the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, is said to be aimed at embarrassing the PM (pictured)
A group of some 50 Tory MPs – including former PM Theresa May – has been demanding a Parliamentary vote on the decision, which ministers have so far dodged.
Shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said the philanthropists’ decision to step was an embarrassment for Britain.
‘This is a shameful moment for this Conservative government,’ Ms Gill said.
‘As low income countries continue to battle against the pandemic, this contribution to try and plug some of the gap left by the government’s slashing of life saving aid programmes is welcome, but it will only be able to prevent the very worst of the damage caused.
‘The government’s decision to cut the aid budget, against the wishes of Parliament, has already cost lives and they must reverse it or put to a vote as soon as possible.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, applauded the philanthropists’ move, but said he was still praying for the Government to restore its promises on aid.
‘These diseases cause unimaginable suffering and entirely preventable deaths,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘This emergency funding is welcome and desperately needed, but I continue to pray for the restoration of our promise to those living in extreme poverty around the world: which was to love them as our neighbour through our commitment to the 0.7 per cent aid spending target.’
Former musician and Live Aid organiser Sir Bob Geldof said it was ‘disgraceful’ private benefactors were needed to atone for the Government’s ‘abandonment’ of those requiring the aid.
‘How disgraceful that in order to prevent the fatal consequences of Boris Johnson’s broken word, private individuals need to fill the fatal void of an illegal abandonment of the weakest of the world to their awful, inevitable fate,’ Sir Bob said.
The Telegraph reported the temporary funding for neglected tropical diseases will support countries most affected by the cuts, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
A group of some 50 Tory MPs – including former PM Theresa May (pictured centre) – has been demanding a Parliamentary vote on the decision, which ministers have so far dodged
The charities told the paper the cuts put at risk sexual reproductive health services and supplies, including contraceptives, and said this undermined the Government’s stated goals of helping keep girls in school.
Baroness Sugg, who resigned as a Foreign Office minister in protest at the cuts, added the UK’s funding withdrawal for contraception would have led to unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, adding the Government ‘must return to its promise next year to avoid permanently losing the progress made thanks to the generosity of British taxpayers’.
Kate Hampton, chief executive officer of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, told the paper: ‘We are stepping in so that when the Government returns to its commitments next year as promised, the progress made will not have been lost.’
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