The decision to renege on the UK’s international development commitment is unfair, unwise and immoral.
The UK Aid programme plays a vital role in helping to tackle poverty and support sustainable development in the poorest places in the world. The shrinking economy in 2020 already meant that the international development budget would be reduced, and cutting this further by reducing the target from 0.7% to 0.5% has been devastating for many vital and necessary programmes. Plans to provide people with clean water and sanitation have been put on hold, programmes to support women in family planning have been savaged, and the UK’s contribution to combat neglected tropical diseases has been slashed. Under the strict criteria set for a return to the 0.7%, the £4bn cut in annual funding is likely to be perpetuated year on year. This decision will undoubtedly cost many lives.
Other major economies have shown leadership during the pandemic by increasing their international development programmes. The UK government’s cut in international development stands in contrast to its recent announcement of the largest programme of spending on defence since the end of the Cold War. As those called to love our neighbours as ourselves in an interconnected world, we regard yesterday’s vote as heartless and self-defeating.
Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Mr Peter Pay and Revd Clare Downing, Moderators of General Assembly, United Reformed Church