Response to UK announcement on foreign aid budget cut

Published on 25 November 2020

In response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcement today that the UK commitment to spend 0.7 percent of its GNI on overseas development aid is to be reduced to 0.5 percent, Professor Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies, said:

“Today’s announcement is incredibly damaging with devastating long-term consequences for millions of the poorest people in the world and for the UK’s international reputation.

“Rather than respond to the global Covid-19 pandemic by acknowledging how interdependent and interconnected the world is, the UK government is reducing its contribution to tackle challenges that affect us all – poverty and inequalities, disease and climate change.

“The impacts of Covid-19 are set to reverse many development gains, including progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and will negatively impact our global resilience and preparedness for future shocks. This is a critical moment for leadership on foreign aid when the UK government should focus on international cooperation and support rather than sending out a message of retreat.

“The UK has been at the cutting edge of development knowledge and collaborative research that is vital as we look to build back better but also to building forward differently from Covid-19. At this moment, we need the FCDO to sustain investment both in urgent aid relief and the cutting-edge development research that will generate evidence for more effective decision-making, informed by real-world experiences, contexts and complexities.

“With a reduced aid budget it is even more essential that the new FCDO improves its level of transparency and that a Cabinet-level Minister for International Development appointed. This must be alongside establishing a dedicated ODA parliamentary select committee to properly scrutinise UK aid spending and priority setting.”

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