UK responds to World Bank criticism over aid cuts

  • Author: Faisal Islam
  • Economics Editor

image caption,

Ethiopians line up for food aid in the Gode camp last year

Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell hit back at criticism of aid cuts to the world's poorest, saying the UK was still a “very dominant power”.

Mr Mitchell said the UK was the third largest donor to the World Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries.

The anti-poverty watchdog has accused the UK of causing “real pain” with recent cuts to foreign aid.

But Mr Mitchell admitted the cuts may have come at the worst possible time.

The UK has halved payments sent to the World Bank's International Development Association fund. It now ships £500m a year.

The government said it was a temporary cut until Britain's public finances were back in order.

The bank hopes that the UK will soon return to higher levels of funding.

Speaking to the BBC, Axel van Trotsenburg, senior managing director of the World Bank, explained how every dollar counts. He said: “Every dollar that we get saves lives. The way I look at this fund is that you're actually saving lives … so it's caused real pain.”

Mr van Trotsenburg, another head of the bank, also said that donor contributions were mostly “flat-rate”.

The World Bank is under pressure to raise funds for a new crisis response fund to help countries respond to higher levels of poverty resulting from higher food prices.

Mr van Trotsenburg added: “We want to build on that. And we want the UK to return to higher levels.”

Three years of crisis brought an abrupt end to decades of progress in reducing global poverty.

Absolute poverty, where people live on less than $2 (£1.63) a day, now affects almost 100 million more people than before the pandemic.

With this in mind, the World Bank says it needs more resources to deal with crisis-hit poorer countries as early as December this year.

However, as more funds are diverted to refugee spending, this affects other aid streams. For example, money allocated to sub-Saharan Africa has fallen by more than 7% in real terms.

Elvira Parkinson

"Alcohol scholar. Hardcore tv junkie. Wannabe bacon enthusiast. Twitter fanatic. Subtly charming travel guru. Pop culture specialist."