Christian charities slam politicians' 'anti-aid' agenda

Christian charities have hit back at a Taxpayers' Alliance report calling for a radical shake-up of rules on international aid.

Britain spends 0.7 per cent of its gross national income on aid, an international target achieved under David Cameron but unpopular among many Conservatives.

The report calls for anti-piracy actions, drug busting and peacekeeping to be included under 'aid', as well as funding poor countries to take out insurance against natural disasters. It also says the UK should transfer less of its aid budget to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank after Brexit.

Jordan is hosting at least 600,000 Syrian refugees, and is struggling to cope. British aid helps fund relief work.Reuters

The effect of this policy change would be to see less cash available for traditional aid spending.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Ministers need to bring the development rules in house, face down the international NGO cartels and address the real effectiveness of aid spending by signing off every penny.'

World Vision UK chief executive Tim Pilkington said: 'An anti-aid agenda is now becoming brazen within parts of parliament. It is unacceptable for the world's poorest to be used as a football in a Brexit-fed political power struggle.

'As a Christian organisation, we will always join with people of all faiths or none to challenge injustice and stand with the poor and most vulnerable. We cannot stand by and let a narrative take root that it is better to spend UK Aid on boosting Britain rather than eradicating global poverty.

'Diverting funds from the world's poorest communities under the guise of taking back control in the UK is shameful, and incompatible with a truly Global Britain. Serving national interests over the needs of the world's most vulnerable children would be a dereliction of our responsibility as a nation.'

Christine Allen, Director of Catholic aid agency CAFOD, said: 'The TaxPayers' Alliance report misses the point of the UK's aid budget and shows they don't understand development. Development is not always straightforward in a world of increasingly complex global issues like climate change, migration and tax avoidance, but with 700 million people still living in extreme poverty, now is not the time to weaken our solidarity with the world's poorest people.

'The UK public is rightly proud of our international aid record, which is respected for its focus on the poorest countries and for high standards of accountability. Those politicians seeking to use the aid budget solely for British interests, rather than tackling poverty, should understand that our focus on the world's poorest people gives us standing in the world but also that it's the right thing to do. The aid budget should not be used to play politics and ambitious politicians would do well to remember that.'