A woman carries water by bicycle in Java (file photo) (Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)
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Boris Johnson’s cruel aid cuts to the world’s poorest face a challenge in the High Court.
A charity that is set to lose £14.2m in sexual health funding has sent a pre-action letter to the government – just days after Boris Johnson drove through a statement that will keep the cuts for years.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) argues the cut is unlawful because MPs voted to “consider” it – but not to formally amend the 2015 International Development Act.
That means the 2015 Act still says it is a “duty” of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to ensure the 0.7% target is met in “each subsequent year”.
The Act adds ministers must make an annual statement to Parliament explaining the “economic circumstances” if the 0.7% target is not met – something the government will argue it has done.
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IPPF director-general Dr Alvaro Bermejo said the cuts will have a "catastrophic impact on millions of women, girls and marginalised people worldwide" and cost thousands of lives.
He added: "This action is about fighting the injustice of the Government's ruling on behalf of the women and girls we serve."
The government will now have to respond to the pre-action letter and if the charity is not satisfied it could apply for a full hearing in the High Court.
UK aid spending was slashed from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income due to Covid last year, breaking a Tory manifesto pledge.
Theresa May rebelled for the first time in 24 years over the cuts
Under the new plan it will only be restored once debt is falling and the UK is not borrowing for day to day spending.
But Theresa May, one of 24 Tory rebels, was privately told this was unlikely to happen for four or five years.
Ex-PMs Mrs May, David Cameron and Sir John Major all condemned the cut. Mrs May, who defied the Tory whip for the first time in 24 years, said the government had "broken its promise" to the world's poor.
She told MPs this week: “This isn’t about palaces for dictators and vanity projects.
"It’s about what cuts to funding mean – that fewer girls will be educated, more boys and girls will become slaves, more children will go hungry and more of the poorest people in the world will die."
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “The Government has provided a clear measure on returning to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on official development assistance and members of Parliament voted clearly to approve this approach.
"We are acting in line with the International Development Act 2015, which explicitly envisages that there may be circumstances where the 0.7% target is not met.
“We remain a world-leading aid donor and we will spend more than £10 billion this year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health.”