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Published on May 18, 2017
Theresa May has opened the door to changing the definition of foreign aid while continuing to meet the 0.7 per cent target, raising fears funds will be diverted from some of the world’s poorest.
Despite reports of an internal battle within the Conservative party over whether to drop Britain’s spending commitment, the Prime Minister quashed speculation last month, saying the UK would honour the UN-backed target.
But the party’s manifesto – published on Thursday - adds Britain will attempt to renegotiate the rules of development assistance. “If that does not work, we will change the law to allow us to use a better definition of development spending, while continuing to meet our 0.7 per cent target,” the manifesto adds.
Last year ministers were accused of planning to privatise much of the aid budget, after unveiling plans to funnel the money through its private equity arm.
The manifesto states: “There are still ways that we can improve the way taxpayers’ money is used to help the world’s most vulnerable people. We do not believe that international definitions of development assistance always help in determining how much money should be spent, on whom and for what purpose.
“So we will work with like-minded countries to change the rules so that they are updated and better reflect the breadth our assistance around the world. If that does not work, we will change the law to allow us to use a better definition of development spending, while continuing to meet our 0.7 per cent target."
It adds that Britain’s commitment protects the countries interests by “building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world” and that the party “will maintain the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on assistance to developing nations and international emergencies".
The manifesto also commits the UK to significantly increase funding of UK-led medical and technical research into the biggest threats to global health and prosperity.