The UK temporarily paused overseas development aid that is not deemed critical because of concerns about rising pressure on government budgets, people familiar with the matter said. The Foreign Office informed some staff a freeze is necessary because crises including Russia’s war in Ukraine have led to additional expenditure that means the government is in danger of overspending, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Any payments above £1 million (US$1.2 million) are barred unless critical to life or unless their blockage leads to additional costs, they said. New contracts and activity linked to agreements that have yet to start are also being paused. The new rules are in place until the autumn when a new prime minister will be able to make decisions on whether to stop or resume some aid payments and activities, one of the sources said. The pause essentially means that the UK is all but halting overseas aid payments for now. UK to scrap US$16 million in foreign aid to China The Foreign Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The move is a blow to Britain’s aid recipients, who are already reeling from the country’s decision to slash its aid budget to 0.5 per cent of gross national income from 0.7 per cent to help repair the budget deficit in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The cut, pushed through by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, was estimated to be worth about £4 billion at the time. Sunak is now vying with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson as UK prime minister and Conservative Party Leader. The winner is due to be announced on September 5 and take power the following day. Parliament approved Sunak’s cut despite a significant rebellion among Tory MPs, which included former Prime Minister Theresa May and former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell. May said at the time that the cuts meant “fewer girls will be educated, more girls and boys will become slaves, more children will go hungry and more of the poorest people in the world will die.” Sunak argued that it was necessary to make the “commitment more secure for the long term, while helping the government to fix the problems with our public finances”.