- Help the UNA LASER Working Group on Aid and Development
The UNA LASER Working Group on Aid and Development, chaired by Catherine Pluygers, is building a network of volunteers who are concerned about the devastating impact of UK aid cuts and want to help get UK aid restored to 0.7% Gross National Income. The group hopes to identify someone in each parliamentary constituency to lobby MPs and raise awareness of the issue. These people may also liaise with other local NGOs (such as those in Crack the Crises) to strengthen the campaign.
Please, if you can, step forward to join this network.
The group has linked up with Rachel Pallett of BOND (who spoke enthusiastically at the group’s zoom meeting on 20th July). She is concentrating on this area of work and will provide expertise and resource material.
- Write to your MP
You can adapt this letter for your MP to ensure that the messages get to the Chancellor. (Feel free to write a similar direct to the Chancellor, but this is likely to be dealt with by an official.) Don’t forget to include your full, postal address so s/he knows you are a constituent. Do share any response you get with the LASER Working Group (see above).
Dear [MP’s name]
I am writing to ask you, please, to put pressure on the government urgently to restore the proportion of our Gross National Income (GNI) that the UK spends on Overseas Development Assistance (aid). .
Millions of us were thrilled when the Make Poverty History Campaign in 2005 saw commitments across the political spectrum to take the UK to spending the target (agreed at the UN in 1970) of 0.7% GNI on aid. (Making the target a proportion of our GNI recognised the fact that the aid would fluctuate according to our ability to pay.) It was even more important when the government delivered on this target in 2013 and then enshrined it in law in 2015. Since 2013, UK aid expenditure has been widely recognised (such as in the Aid Transparency Index) as one of the best in the world for effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
Now the government has announced a reduction to 0.5% GNI. This, along with our lower GNI, means a reduction of £4.5 billion, or 30% relative to 2019. In comparison, our defence spending (2.1% GDP in 2019, already above the 2% NATO target) will, according to the Centre for Global Development, rise by £6bn pa to over 2.4% GDP.
The size and the speed of the aid reduction are causing terrible suffering.
- £40m was given in 2020 to core support to UNICEF, working with the world’s poorest children: the cuts are likely to reduce this to £16m (meaning, for example, about 5.3m fewer children being immunised and about a 40% reduction – from £672m to £400m – in support of girls’ education).
- According to a recent leaked government memo revealed by Sky News, almost all (80%) of the funding for clean water and sanitation projects has been cut – particularly worrying in the contribution that hygiene makes to combating the spread of the pandemic.
- Yemen – a country with the most devastating conflict, with terrible humanitarian suffering and on the brink of famine – has had its aid cut by 60%.
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative – which has been at the forefront of eliminating 99.9% of polio cases worldwide – has had its funding cut by 95%, risking resurgence of this terrible disease.
The Chancellor has said that the UK aid budget would return to 0.7% GNI “when the fiscal situation allows”. Since the Office of Budget responsibility (OBR) expects the economy to return to its 2019 size by 2022, please urge the government – showing the global leadership it has promised and promoting ‘global Britain’ – to reinstate our aid programme to 0.7% GNI next year.
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