London, 17th November: As per the Chancellor’s Fiscal Statement earlier today, the Government officially announced that it has shelved plans restore the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget to 0.7% GNI by 2024/25 – as initially set out by Rishi Sunak as Chancellor in 2021. Instead, the UK will maintain its cut to around 0.5% for the foreseeable future. In practice, this means that approximately £5 billion will be cut from the international development budget each year until it returns to the 0.7% target.
Recent analyses suggest that an increasingly significant share of the aid budget (approximately £4 billion) is being spent within the UK – primarily to assist Ukrainian refugees. Despite the crucial importance of helping people fleeing the war in Ukraine, the scale of funding needed has left the aid budget being available to be spent overseas as closer to 0.3% of national income. Concerns about how this money is being spent have led the International Development Committee (IDC) to launch an inquiry into how aid is being used to support refugees in the UK.
The strained aid budget is already having a devastating impact on the life saving work that Britain has supported around the world. Earlier this week, the government announced it was cutting funding to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria by 29% – the first time the UK has reduced its support for the live saving fund it helped to establish in 2001. Cuts to the aid budget also mean that 7 million children will no longer receive a quality education, whilst UK support for the East African food crisis this year (£142 million) is 82% less than in the last crisis in 2018 when the UK provided £861 million.
Romilly Greenhill, UK Director of The ONE Campaign, said: “There was undoubtedly huge pressure on Jeremy Hunt to find areas to cut today, but the government should never seek to balance the books on the backs of the world’s poor.
The impact of these cuts will be felt by millions of vulnerable people around the world. With escalating conflict, rising food and fuel prices, a rapidly unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa, and the Climate Crisis having a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest countries, this is the worst possible time to extend the cut to the aid budget. This is not the way to show international leadership or demonstrate our commitment to be a truly global Britain.
“With the war in Ukraine putting even greater pressure on ODA spending, aid budgets must now be protected from further cuts. It is essential that the 0.5% target is treated as a floor, not a ceiling – and that there are no further stealth cuts to this budget as more money that should be used to support the world’s poorest countries is instead spent within the UK.”