Thank you to those who contacted me about the change in our foreign aid budget. I know that many of my constituents were concerned about the impact of this on our position as world-leading aid donors.
Clearly, this was a difficult decision and one that has been given a lot of consideration. We have to confront the fact that we are facing a health crisis as well as an economic crisis. We have given unprecedented support to those who have been impacted by this pandemic, and this means we have a budget deficit which is double that of the last financial crisis.
I want to reassure constituents that this reduction from 0.7% to 0.5% of our national income is a temporary measure. The Chancellor has made it clear that we will return to 0.7% as soon as our fiscal situation allows. I also want to note here that we still remain one of the world leaders in donating aid – even prior to the pandemic, only 1 other G20 member allocated 0.5% or more of Gross National Income to development spending. Next year, we have committed to spending over £10 billion to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve our global wellbeing.
With a smaller budget also comes a commitment to ensuring that we can deliver maximum impact for every pound spent. In the Foreign Secretary’s statement to the House of Commons, he set out 7 places we will concentrate our efforts to make the most impact. These include:
- climate change and biodiversity: a greener and cleaner path to growth in developing countries
- COVID and global health security: combat COVID-19 and support healthier and more resilient populations in developing countries
- girls’ education: a global commitment to get 40 million girls into education and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10
- science, research, technology: deliver cutting edge technology and research-led solutions in health, education, resilience, low carbon technologies, agriculture and economic development, conflict and poverty
- open societies and conflict resolution: strengthen democratic institutions, human rights, free media and effective governance
- humanitarian preparedness and response: Lead stronger collective international response to crises and famine
- trade and economic development: build trading and investment partners of the future
As I said, this is not a decision taken lightly and it is intended that this will be a temporary measure.
I hope the information above goes some way to reassure you that we will continue to do what we can to help those across the globe and thank you again to those who got in touch about this issue.