Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

BBC Newsnight: Carey Mulligan blasts ‘devastating’ decision over War Child funding

Dominic Raab defends UK’s foreign aid spending cuts

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The UK Government had planned to pay the organisation, War Child, £500,000 from July this year as part of a donation match scheme. It is now scheduled for April 2022.

Ms Mulligan, a patron of the charity, told BBC Newsnight: “Pretty devastating news for us and for War Child and for the countless amounts of people who gave their time and their support an their money towards the campaign, under the understanding that it was money that would be matched pound to pound.”

She added: “People really dug in and really gave money in a time that was extremely difficult.

“And it was done with this promise that their money would go further, and we feel that a promise has been broken.

“We upheld our side of this deal, and sadly, the Government are choosing to go back on their word.”

War Child chief executive Rob Williams echoed Ms Mulligan’s remarks, labelling the decision to delay the funding a “breach of faith”.

He told Newsnight: “A delay of a year is a disaster and it is a major breach of faith because all those people who raised money in response to the Government’s promise that they would match the money have basically been let down.

“Whilst the Government might think a delay of a year is a reasonable proposition, the project means that we won’t be able to stop about three thousand children being trafficked into Iran over the next 12 months or so.”

Last November, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed plans to cut Britain’s foreign aid budget by £4billion.

The move was part of his blueprint to help the UK’s economy recover amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In his Commons statement, the Chancellor said spending 0.7 percent of GDP on foreign aid was “difficult to justify”.

He said: “At a time of unprecedented crisis the House must take tough choices.”

As a result, he explained that foreign aid spending would be slashed to 0.5 percent, as he allocated a budget of £10billion.

Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major had all urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid slashing the budget.

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement: “The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid.

“We will still spend more than £10 billion this year to and improve global health, fight poverty and tackle climate change.

“We have protected War Child’s UK Aid Match funding because we value their work and the results they will deliver.

“All UK Aid Match commitments will be protected, as set out in the foreign secretary’s written ministerial statement. In some cases there will be a delay in releasing the guaranteed funding”.

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