26 August 2021
At the request of the Methodist Conference, the President and Vice-President have written to the Prime Minister regarding the UK government cuts to the foreign aid budget.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson, M.P.,
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
10 Downing Street
18 August 2021
cc. Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing on behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain. The Conference of the Methodist Church meeting on 24 June to 1 July 2021 has requested that we write to you in relation to Her Majesty’s Government’s commitment to international development.
In July 2021, the Methodist Conference noted with concern from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income. As a justice-seeking church, we believe that it is right that richer nations financially support initiatives to tackle global poverty, address injustices, and encourage sustainable development. The decline in the economy in 2020 already meant that the international development budget would be significantly reduced.
COVID-19 has highlighted the world’s inequalities and therefore this is not the time for the government to be further cutting an aid programme which has, in previous years, been assessed to be of high quality. Members of the Methodist Church were highly active in the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign, and many Methodists in the UK are disappointed that its aims still have not been adequately met. The 0.7 per cent target had been met every year since 2013, enshrined in law since 2015, and was a commitment of all the main political parties at the last General Election. It is therefore particularly disappointing that these cuts come despite commitment from the Government.
The impact of these cuts will be felt in some of the poorest places in the world. Plans to provide people with clean water and sanitation have been put on hold, and programmes to support women in family planning have been savaged. The World Health Organisation recently said the cuts would leave millions of the world’s poorest people at risk from neglected tropical diseases. This decision will undoubtedly cost many lives. This is not the mark on the world we should be leaving as a country.
We regard the decision to renege on the UK’s international development commitment as unfair, unwise and immoral. We therefore urge the UK Government to urgently reverse this policy on the grounds of justice and human rights.
Revd Sonia Hicks
President of the Methodist Conference 2021/2022
Mrs Barbara Easton
Vice- President of the Methodist Conference 2021/202