Oxfam claims Chancellor plans huge international aid cuts

Alistair Darling is considering slashing £860m a year in this week's Budget, says charity

Development charity Oxfam has condemned what it claims are Treasury plans to slash the UK's international aid funding in Wednesday's Budget.

The charity said Chancellor Alistair Darling was considering using the recession as an excuse to cut up to £860m a year in planned aid spending, reducing it from £7.5bn to £6.6bn. It says that combined with the effects of a weaker pound, the value of UK aid could be reduced by more than a third in 2010.

Max Lawson, senior policy adviser at Oxfam, said: "Reducing future UK aid would send out exactly the wrong message just weeks after the Prime Minister successfully lobbied his fellow leaders to provide a bailout for poor people hit hard by the global downturn.

"He cannot expect other countries to follow his lead if the UK reneges on its own aid promises."

A spokesman for the charity said he was unable to give more details about the source of the figures, but said he was fairly sure the cuts were on the table.

A spokesman for the Treasury said the department had a policy of never commenting on Budget speculation.

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