Skip to main content

Future of UK aid: reductions to the aid budget examined

2 December 2020

The International Development Committee will scrutinise the reduction to the aid budget, with an evidence session with the development sector next week, before hearing from the Foreign Secretary in January.

Tuesday 8 December 2020 (Virtual meeting)

  • Please note there is no physical access to Parliament
  • Session will be conducted with remote participation by witnesses and Committee members

At 2.30pm

  • Harpinder Collacott, Executive Director, Development Initiatives
  • Mark Miller, Director of Programme – Development Public Finance, Overseas Development Institute
  • Ian Mitchell, Senior Policy Fellow and Co-Director (Europe), Center for Global Development

At 3.15pm

  • Romilly Greenhill, Director, ONE Campaign
  • Alan Mendoza, Executive Director, Henry Jackson Society
  • Simon Starling, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research, Bond

Purpose of the Session

As part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor announced a reduction of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI from 2021. In real terms, this will shrink the UK’s aid budget by one third compared to 2019 levels. The Government has also announced that it intends to legislate for this change.

At this pivotal time for UK aid, the Committee will consider the practical implications of cutting UK ODA to 0.5% of GNI. It will discuss the impact of the reductions for communities in the global south and for the UK’s international standing. It will also examine the Government’s new priorities for aid spending.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, has agreed to appear before the Committee on 26 January.

Chair's comments

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“This is devastating news for the poorest people in the world. For months, numerous ministers have repeatedly confirmed their manifesto commitment to 0.7%. In recent days, we’ve had former Prime Ministers, business groups, aid groups, all warning against such a move saying our global standing will be threatened, not to mention how immoral and short-sighted it is to reduce aid during a global pandemic. Despite all this, the Government have still reneged on their commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on development.

“The Government needs to quickly clarify the impact of this news on existing projects. What are the criteria for the cuts, will there be impact assessments, will the sector, or parliament, be consulted?

“My Committee has spent much of this year looking at how effective UK aid is. It is very effective; transforming the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable across the world, enhancing our diplomatic influence and fostering peace and prosperity. In 2021, the UK will assume the presidency of the G7 and will host the COP 26 conference on tackling climate change. Cutting the UK’s aid budget at this time sends a contradictory message about how the UK sees its role on the world stage.

“To tackle suffering and injustices ranging from famine to violence, disease to poverty, we must all come together. What does reducing our commitment to humanitarian relief and international development in the middle of a pandemic say about us? Within six months a specialist development Government department has been scrapped, this year’s budget has already been slashed and next year’s too by even more. I think we can wave goodbye to the development superpower status that we have proudly had for so long.”

Further information

Image: Crown Copyright