Dismay at international aid budget cut
General Secretary Lynn Green has joined leaders in the Methodist Church and United Reformed Church to express dismay at the government's ‘heartless’ move to reduce the UK’s commitment to international aid
On Tuesday MPs voted to support the government's plan to cut its international development budget from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of national income by 333 votes to 298.
The move means that around £4billion less will be spent on foreign aid this year, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying it was necessary to reduce the strain on public finances. However, the decision was criticised by many aid agencies and faith leaders.
Lynn joined the Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church, and Peter Pay and the Revd Clare Downing, Moderators of General Assembly, United Reformed Church, in issuing the following statement:
'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 per cent to 0.5 per cent 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 per cent, 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 Tuesday’s vote as heartless and self-defeating.'
The Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
The 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
The Joint Public Issues Team produced a briefing back in February when it first emerged this might be the direction in which the government were heading. It encouraged people to write to their MP ahead of the vote (see above image)
If you would like more information on why church leaders from numerous denominations have been so concerned with this change in government policy, you can read the briefing here.