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ONE Campaign statement on proposed cuts to UK aid

Ahead of the Spending Review (due on Wednesday, November 25th), reports have appeared of plans to cut to the UK aid budget. The cuts – which would reduce the UK aid budget from 0.7% of national income to 0.5% – are being proposed to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, anti-poverty organisation The ONE Campaign warned against the cuts. If they are delivered, not only would they undermine the UK’s international standing, but also pose a risk to people both at home and abroad.

Romilly Greenhill, UK Director of ONE, said “Reducing the aid budget would be cutting off our nose to spite our own face. It’s money intended to fight killer disease, so doing it in the middle of a pandemic would be a terrible idea.

“It would harm people at home as well as others abroad. COVID-19 has shown how we’re all interconnected, and the virus clearly doesn’t respect borders. We need to support others to help them strengthen their health systems, as it protects us too.”

The reports of the cuts also comes amid news that there is to be a significant spending increase for the Defence budget.

Greenhill continued: “Cutting the aid budget whilst finding the money for bombs is mind-boggling. This move is not just wrong – reducing support millions rely on for basic health and education needs – it’s extremely counterproductive. 

“Evidence shows the way defence and development work complement each other. Reducing the latter for the former is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and will just mean that achieving our defence objectives becomes more difficult.  The best way to achieve long term security is through investment in development, especially in the poorest and most fragile countries. ”


Some key facts on the links between defence and development:

ODA for conflict prevention:

  • In Rwanda every $1 invested in peacebuilding has saved $16 through the costs of conflict
  • Research has found that aid targeting education and conflict prevention decreases terrorism. The United Nations Development Programme found that key motivators for joining extremist organisations included poor levels of quality education during childhood (source)
  • An increase of 10% in foreign aid can lead to a decrease of the risk of civil conflict, a source of grievances, by 6-9%. – (source)  
  • If enrolment in secondary schooling is increased by 10 percent, the average risk of civil war is reduced by nearly 3 percentage points
  • At present, over half of those states in extreme poverty are also considered fragile, by 2030, this proportion is expected to rise to 85%
  • War zones are poor zones. Countries with poor state capacity and limited opportunities for young people are breeding grounds for extremism