Where does the UK's foreign aid money go and how does it compare to the rest of the world?

The UK has spent heavily on improving education in Pakistan in recent years. Credit: AP

Boris Johnson avoided a major humiliation from his backbenchers as they attempted to reverse the cut to the foreign aid budget - but after months of extraordinarily difficult decisions, why is the Tory party split over this?

Several senior Tories including former Prime Minister Theresa May and former Brexit secretary David Davis led the rebellion against the cut, which was put down after Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said their amendment was "outside of the scope of the Bill" which was being debated.

Boris Johnson slashed aid spending to 0.5% of national income from 0.7% as the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy, but ministers have insisted it is only a temporary measure until the nation’s finances are repaired.Why is Boris Johnson facing the rebellion?

Around 30 Tory MPs, led by former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell hoped to use an amendment to legislation setting up the Advanced Research and Invention Agency to force the new body to make up the funding to meet the 0.7% goal.

But Sir Lindsay told the Commons the amendment was not related enough to the bill to be heard but did indicate he was open to an emergency debate on the issue.

He also pointed out the "House has not had an opportunity for a decisive vote on maintaining the UK's commitment to the statutory target of 0.7%."

The issue has resurfaced at a sensitive time for Mr Johnson, who hosts leaders from some of the world’s richest countries at the G7 summit in Cornwall this week.Mr Mitchell said the amendment was a bid to ensure Mr Johnson could travel to Cornwall to meet his G7 counterparts on Friday as “first among equals”.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Mitchell said: “The eyes of the world are truly upon us.

“But in this moment Britain is found wanting, because we have removed a foundational piece of our own global leadership.

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“Britain is the only G7 nation cutting aid this year.”

Mr Johnson has been encouraging rich nations to share Covid vaccines with poor nations recently and promoting international aid as key to the recovery from the pandemic.

The government said at the time of the cut it would only be temporary but the Conservatives have been under pressure from some within their party to lower the amount of money spent on foreign aid for years.

How does the UK spent is foreign aid money and how has the cut impacted spending?

The government says the cut to the foreign aid budget save will save around £4bn a year.

The amount spent on aid also fell in 2020 due to the contraction of the economy, equivalent to around £700million.

In 2019, the top five countries that receive aid from the UK government were Pakistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Nigeria.

The UK has sent millions to Yemen to help with humanitarian aid Credit: AP

Just over half of the UK's international aid spending in 2019 was spent in Africa with most of the rest spent in Asia.

In 2019 the UK spent £1.4bn on health projects including medical research, family planning and the control of infectious diseases.

It also spent around the same amount of money on humanitarian aid in conflict regions like Yemen, Syria and Bangladesh.

The United Nations Population Fund, which helps poor countries with family planning, sexual health and reproductive problems said their funding from the UK was cut by 85% when the foreign aid budget was slashed.

They said if their funding had not been cut they would have been able to prevent 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions. The cut also saw £150 million withdrawn from research and management of neglected tropical diseases.

The charity Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases said the cuts will left more than 200 million people vulnerable to these devastating diseases at a time when we are also fighting a global health pandemic.

The UK has been building classrooms and funding education in Pakistan in recent years Credit: AP

Former Brexit secretary Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today that the “harmful” and “devastating” cuts would result in deaths around the world.

There will be massive cuts in efforts to provide clean water, which will kill children worldwide, and in funding for food for starving people, where “again thousands will die”, Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

How much does the rest of the world spend on foreign aid?

In 1970, the UK pledged to spend 0.7% of its national income on aid as part of a United Nations agreement.

It was among 30 wealthy countries which vowed to meet this commitment and the UK enshrined it into law in 1970.

Since then only 14 countries have met the target at some point and only seven met it in 2020.

Several rich nations have gone over the 0.7% limit at some point, with Germany spending 0.74%, Denmark 0.73%, Luxembourg 1.02%, Norway 1.11% and Sweden 1.14%.

The UK has been sending aid to support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in recent years. Credit: AP

The US is the biggest aid donor, it spent £25.04bn in 2019 on aid, followed by Germany's £20.04bn and the UK's £13.12bn.

Despite the US being the biggest donor, it only spent 0.16% of its GDP on foreign aid in 2019.

Other major economies signed up to the UN agreement also fall far below the 0.7 commitment, in 2019 Australia spent 0.22% of its GDP on foreign aid, New Zealand 0.28%, France 0.44% and Spain 0.21%.

Some nations that are not part of the UN agreement still spend a significant amount on foreign aid.

Turkey has one of the largest foreign aid budgets in terms of its overall GDP in the world, spending 1.15% in 2019.

Russia is among the lowest in the world for developed countries, only spending around 0.03% of its GDP on foreign aid in 2019.