Many campaigners around Wales got involved to call on the UK government to commit to the UN target of 0.7% for overseas development aid, as enshrined in law in the 2015 International Development Act.
Sadly, this Spring, the UK Chancellor announced the Government would significantly reduce the budget for international development, arguing that the costs of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic meant a temporary cut was necessary.
Under the Government’s plans, overseas aid spending has been reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI). It means the international development budget falling by around a third, from £15.2 billion in 2019 to around £10 billion in 2021. The 0.7 per cent target had been met every year since 2013, and enshrined in law since 2015.
Dropping this commitment to aid and development will severely undermine the UK government’s aims of being “a force for good in the world” and undermine our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. UK aid is a commitment to the world’s most marginalised people; it saves lives and builds better futures, as well as tackling climate change and eradicating disease.
These threatened cuts to the UK’s aid budget could not come at a worse time for the world’s poorest countries. The UN projects that 207 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 due to the severe long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. And, pegging the UK aid budget to the GNI provides a built-in safety mechanism whereby the available budget grows and shrinks with the economy – which would mitigate the necessity for these cuts.