THE CHANCELLOR must change course over planned cuts to the aid budget and set aside funds to help vaccinate the world’s poorest, according to the SNP.

Rishi Sunak is preparing to set out his spending plans on Wednesday, where he is expected to focus on economic recovery from the pandemic.

While a bitter feud has broken out within the Tory party over potential corporation tax rises, the SNP has asked the Chancellor to think beyond the UK’s borders and reconsider cuts to foreign aid.

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The party’s intentional development spokesman said the UK Government risks replacing its vision of “Global Britain” with one more akin to “Little Britain” if it does not reconsider its aid strategy.

The UK Government announced that it would reduce its aid budget from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5%, prompting one ministerial resignation and outcry from charities.

The Westminster International Development Committee heard evidence that these proposals could have a devastating impact on the health of overseas nations.

The reduction in the aid budget by around £4 billion could lead to more than 100,000 early preventable deaths, one million children out of school, and 105,000 children unvaccinated who previously would have been.

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Ahead of the Budget on March 3, the SNP has challenged Chancellor Sunak to U-turn on the proposed cut, and do more to help the most impoverished countries with supplies of the coronavirus vaccine. 

The UK already contributes to the global Covax scheme, which will provide supplies of vaccine to nearly 100 countries around the world.

In January, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK had helped to raise $1 billion of the $6bn the scheme currently has, though match-funding donors and paying £548 million from the aid budget towards it. 

The US has donated around $4bn, with the new President Joe Biden making it one of his first priorities in office to join the scheme. 

Ghana became the first country in the world to receive 600,000 of doses of the Oxford-AstraZenica jab this week and Côte d’Ivoire became the second country to benefit yesterday. 

More than half-a-million jabs arrived at the country’s Abidjan International airport around 10am.

Organisers of the global project, however, say that at least a further $2bn is needed if the scheme is to reach its goal for 2021. 

The SNP’s shadow international development spokesman, Chris Law MP, said that the poorest countries were being “disproportionately hit” by the pandemic, and appealed to the Chancellor to take this into consideration in his Budget.

He said: “At a time when the world’s poorest and most vulnerable are facing a disproportionate hit from the coronavirus pandemic and many find themselves on the brink, the UK’s planned cuts to the aid budget is nothing short of a moral failure.

“The move highlights yet again the UK’s receding role on the international stage.

“The Chancellor has the opportunity when presenting his Budget to step back from plans to break the government’s legal commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development aid.

“He must grasp the opportunity and announce a strengthening of aid efforts to help those most in need - including through the rollout of vaccinations in developing countries.

“Failing to do so would not only be a dereliction of duty - but it would confirm that the UK’s so-called Global Britain vision is nothing more than an insular and isolationist Little Britain.

“Scotland can do much better than a broken Westminster system acting against our interests. An independent Scotland - because of our interests and our progressive ambitions - will put international development at its heart and will be committed to the 0.7% target.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We remain a world leading aid donor and will spend more than £10 billion next year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health.”

Westminster officials also highlighted the government’s commitment to seven key targets internationally - climate change, the covid pandemic, girls’ education, science, conflict resolution, humanitarian responses and trade and economic development.