Provisional statistics released by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office show the UK’s overseas aid spending dropped to £14.5billion in 2020. The figure is 0.7 percent of national income, which plunged due to coronavirus restrictions that were in place for much of the year.
The dip is the first fall in overseas aid spending since the financial crisis in 2007.
It comes after it was announced last year that the UK would abandon its policy of spending 0.7 percent of national income due to the coronavirus crisis, cutting the target to 0.5 percent for 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the move – saving around £4billion a year – would be “temporary”.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for foreign affairs and international development, Layla Moran, tweeted: “These statistics remind us that there was always going to be a cut to UK aid spending due to the pandemic – that’s the point of having a GNI target.
“As the economy shrinks, so does the development budget.
“The Government is acting unlawfully and dishonestly by reneging on the 0.7 percent of GNI spending commitment and cutting UK aid even further.
“Bilateral projects in Africa stand to lose the most.
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“Cutting our aid spending and breaking our promise to the world’s poorest makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ global ambitions and our reputation on the world stage.”
An FCDO spokeswoman said: “The UK is a world leader on international development.
“In 2020 we spent £14.5billion in aid fighting poverty and helping those in need, despite the seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK and global economy.
“This included £1.4billion to support the international effort to fight coronavirus and £1.3billion in humanitarian assistance.
“The FCDO gave more than half of our regional bilateral aid to countries in Africa.
“As a development superpower and one of the largest donors in the G7, the UK will ensure aid is spent even more effectively in 2021 to address global challenges while working in the UK’s national interest.”