The UK government must re-think its aid cuts

The UK government must re-think its aid cuts to the world’s most vulnerable.

The UK government has today announced a U-turn on a Conservative manifesto pledge to protect UK Aid spending, reneging on its legal obligation to spend 0.7% of UK gross national income (GNI) on poorer countries.

The news comes amidst a recent warning from the World Bank that extreme poverty will rise in 2020 for the first time since 1998, with the coronavirus expected to push a further 115 million people into that category, undoing decades of progress to reduce poverty and hunger in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The government has made its decision before a much awaited Integrated Review is complete which demonstrates haste and a lack of proper consideration to poorer nations or indeed its own reputation as a country that has been at the forefront of international aid and foreign affairs.

UK aid has been a lifeline for communities ravaged by war, hunger and climate change and has provided a force of stability to people experiencing unimaginable levels of poverty. Their lives have been made much worse by the onset of one of the biggest pandemics in history and today’s decision will push people already living on a knife edge further into hardship.

Every crisis hits the world’s poorest people hardest and the coronavirus and climate change crises are no different. This is not the time to turn our backs on extremely vulnerable nations. We can and must work as part of a global world community to combat the hugely damaging effects of the major crises we are facing. 

Speaking on the matter today SCIAF’s Director Alistair Dutton today said,

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, wants us to believe that slashing aid is necessary due to the cost of the pandemic. This is simply not true.

This week the UK government has already announced plans to increase the defence budget by £16.5 billion, dwarfing the £4 billion savings from cutting aid today. Were the defence budget only increased by £12.5 billion – an eye-watering sum in any year – this latest cut could have been avoided.

So don’t be taken in by the Chancellor’s claim that we can’t justify the aid budget.  We can.  But we’re choosing not to

I urge the UK government to rethink its decision to let down some of the most vulnerable people at this critical time.