I feel very strongly the government decision to reduce the UK’s aid targe was a profound mistake.
The UK Government has announced that it will reduce aid spending from the legally binding target of 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% in 2021. This is despite a manifesto pledge to maintain the 0.7% commitment.
This decision is not a necessity. It will result in billions being cut from the UK’s aid budget. This will make it harder for the UK to create a safer, healthier, fairer and better world for us all. I believe the 0.7% commitment is vital for achieving future shared prosperity, peace around the world and security.
I am concerned that reducing our aid expenditure will reduce our ability to tackle global poverty and injustice. It is alarming that the World Bank Group estimates between 88 million and 115 million people could fall into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with a further increase of between 23 million and 35 million people living in extreme poverty in 2021. The UK Government must ensure UK aid is focused on eradicating poverty and inequality.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how interconnected the world is, and how vulnerable we are to global challenges. We are in the middle of a global health crisis which has caused devastation around the world. Aid is vital for combating these global challenges and building resilience overseas, which protects us at home too. I firmly believe that by working together to tackle poverty and inequalities, and to create health and environmental security, we can ensure that we are better prepared for future shocks, and we can mitigate risks that have implications for us all.
As well as being the right thing to do, spending aid helping the world’s poorest is also in our national interest. Ahead of hosting the G7 and COP26 summits next year, the UK must lead by example. These are opportunities to showcase the UK as a leader on the biggest challenges facing humanity, and to demonstrate the compassion and solidarity of British people. I am therefore worried about the impact that the decision to reduce our aid budget will have on the UK’s global reputation.
Aid saves lives and helps achieve prosperity, peace and security, both overseas and at home. I will continue to oppose the decision to reduce the UK’s aid budget.