Nearly 200 charities are urging Boris Johnson to keep his commitment to the world’s poorest and not cut international aid in the middle of a global pandemic.
Household names including Save the Children, Greenpeace UK, UNICEF and Friends of the Earth have written to the prime minster to warn that a planned aid cut “could seriously jeopardise the UK’s long term global COVID-19 response”.
The government is reportedly considering plans to drop a longstanding commitment to contribute 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to aid, downgrading it to just 0.5 per cent to save money.
The prime minister is being urged to think of the UK’s international standing, with Britain in the global spotlight next year when it hosts the G7 and COP 26 summits.
“We are facing the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation alongside a global climate crisis,” said Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, one of the organisations on the letter.
“Next year the UK has an opportunity to lead the international response as the Prime Minister hosts the G7 and COP 26 climate summit.
“Abandoning the 0.7 per cent aid commitment would surrender that opportunity and diminish the UK’s standing. It would deeply damage manifesto commitments to help end preventable child deaths and get every girl an education.
“The UK faces real financial challenges; but cutting aid would do huge harm to the world’s vulnerable people while making little difference to the Government’s budget overall. The Prime Minister should step up and show voters that a Global Britain is one that keeps its promises to people and the planet.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely expected to announce a temporary suspension of the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on aid in next week’s spending review.
Treasury ministers have previously claimed that a fall in the UK’s economic output during the pandemic means the amount of money spent on aid can also be reduced.
Other organisations who signed the letter include the Aids Orphan UK Trust, Comic Relief, Action Against Hunger, the Salvation Army UK, Tearfund, Christian Aid, World Jewish Relief, Oxfam GB, and Anti-Slavery international.