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The Foreign Office has shown too little "transparency and openness" over its cuts to international development funding, a watchdog has said.

The aid budget has been reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income – a difference of about £4bn.

The Independent Commission on Aid Impact said some cuts in funding for research on development had been made "without consultation".

But the government says the reductions are temporary and necessary.

And the Foreign Office told the BBC it was committed to full transparency over spending on aid.

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Ministers decided last year to cut spending on overseas development, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak arguing that it was hard to justify at existing levels, as the UK economy piled up record peacetime borrowing as a result of the pandemic.

But charities, Labour and many Tory MPs have spoken out against the move, which went against the pledge in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto to stick to the 0.7% figure.

In its report, the commission said cuts to the Newton Fund – which builds research partnerships with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America – had been made "without consultation" and "little openness".

It said the Foreign Office's responses to its own previous advice had been "inadequate", while there had been a "reduction in transparency and openness".

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The commission also criticised the government's handling of its requests for information, adding that strategy papers that had not been signed off by ministers "were generally not shared", unlike in previous years.

The Foreign Office took on responsibility for aid after the Department for International Development (DfID) closed last year.

It said it had been transparent throughout over the budget changes.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has previously said merging DfID into the Foreign Office will "strengthen further transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayers' money and relentlessly focus our Global Britain strategy on policies and in areas that deliver the most value".