UK Aid cut from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, in his first appearance before the International Development Committee, confirmed the cuts to UK Aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI, but not where they would fall. Scotland’s International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth writes expressing concern, and the Scottish Government budget for international development is maintained. Read on to find out more.
Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs appeared for the first time before the International Development Committee on 26 January. The transcript and recording of the proceedings are available here. The UK Government published its development update statement the same day, confirming its previous announcement that the target allocation of official development assistance would be lowered from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income and setting out how development spend would be allocated between government departments. The response from IDC Chair, Sarah Champion, was to express not only deep concern about funding cuts during a global pandemic but also about the lack of detail about what was being cut.
At the Alliance, we share the deep concern expressed by the IDC, by the Scottish Government International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth as expressed in her letter to Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Cross Party Group on International Development, and by our London-based sister agency, Bond. We are pleased to read in the Scottish Budget 2021/2022 statement that expenditure on international budgets is at least maintained at current levels: page 25 refers to the Climate Justice Fund worth £3m and page 30 to the International Development Fund, stating:
“Underpinning Scotland’s position as a responsible global partner, we will continue to deploy £10 million through the International Development Fund, supporting development programmes delivered by a range of organisations in Scotland, and working with partners overseas, clearly focused on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Many Alliance members in receipt of FCDO funding are threatened by the cuts, which translate into reductions on programme spend by their partners in their own communities on the front line of need and of opportunity. It does indeed seem cruel timing when the social and economic effects of the pandemic are biting hard into the quality of life and life chances of some of the world’s most marginalised people and communities. Whilst of course we cannot ignore the devastating effects of the pandemic here at home, it does seem that funding can be found when policy choices are made. Spending on defence, for example, is set to increase by £6bn a year by 2021, to 2.4% of GDP (NATO target is 2.0%).
The UK Government will need to change the law to bring the reduction into effect. It may face opposition including from some of its own party members who were elected on a clear manifesto commitment to 0.7%. Alliance members and their supporters around Scotland wishing to collaborate to add strength to opposition are invited to get in touch by emailing Chief Executive Jane Salmsonson, firstname.lastname@example.org.