THE FOREIGN AID BUDGET
The Somerset Guardian, 9th December 2020
This week, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, wrote to me outlining the United Kingdom’s (UK) new foreign aid spending plans.
The recent Spending Review confirmed the sobering reality that the pandemic has taken its toll on the public purse and as the Government seeks to address this and rejuvenate the economy difficult decisions have been made to protect the NHS and jobs. This is even more crucial as we leave the European Union (EU).
With regret, the Foreign Secretary announced in the House of Commons that the UK would not be able to uphold its commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on Official Development Assistance next year. This decision was not taken lightly and it was confirmed that a return to this figure would occur in the event that the country’s fiscal situation were to recover to pre-Covid levels.
In spite of the adjustment, latest official figures released by the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that we will continue to be one of the most generous countries of the G7 donors as a percentage of GNI in 2021. The new plans will also see a change in how aid is delivered, something that needed to be reviewed to ensure that all expenditure has maximum impact. The aid will focus on seven global challenges: climate change and biodiversity; Coronavirus and global health security; education for girls; science, research and technology; open societies and conflict resolution; humanitarian preparedness and response and lastly, trade and economic development.
I think that the Foreign Secretary’s announcement is a proportionate response to the situation that we are in whilst retaining the sense of responsibility that wealthier nations ought to have towards those less fortunate.
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