Monday 25 January 2021
Reversing cuts to the aid budget
The petition of residents of the constituency of Glasgow East,
Declares that, although the covid-19 pandemic has caused nations around the world to face tough challenges, both from a public health point of view and a financial point of view, it is absolutely vital that the pandemic does not lead the UK Government to forget the promises made to the public and its commitment to overseas aid; notes that in the Conservative 2019 general election manifesto, the aid budget remaining at 0.7% was a key promise; further declares that cutting the budget continues to break another promise by the Conservative party; further that the cut to the aid budget flies in the face of the UK Government’s promise of a Global Britain; further that this cut is another example of the UK Government’s path to becoming insular and isolated on the world stage; further that the cut in the aid budget will increase poverty and instability around the world, which will be increasingly devastating due to the covid-19 pandemic; and further that the Government should urgently reverse this cut in the aid budget to avoid the devastating predicted impact.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to consider committing to retaining the aid budget at 0.7%, and not reducing it to 0.5% as a result of the covid-19 pandemic spending cuts.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 3 December 2020; Vol. 685, c. 539.]
Observation from The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, (Steve Barclay):
The Government thank the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) for submitting the petition.
The Government have listened with great respect to those who have argued passionately to continue to spend 0.7% of our national income as official development aid (ODA).
The Government remain committed to international development and providing support to the world’s poorest. The UK will remain one of the leading development donors in the world, providing £10 billion next financial year towards our key international development priorities including poverty reduction, climate change, and global health security.
However, we face extraordinary fiscal circumstances as a result of our unprecedented support to the economy in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. As the Chancellor said in his spending review speech, at a time of emergency, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid is not an appropriate prioritisation of resources. The Government intend to return to the 0.7% target when the fiscal situation allows.
The Government will continue to spend overseas aid in the most focused and effective way possible, tackling key global challenges where the UK is already a well-recognised international leader, including in our international response to covid-19.
Aid is also only one way we project Britain’s place in place in the world—the UK uses these resources to support our wider leadership efforts on the world stage, which we will step up as we chair the G7 and COP in 2021.