25th November, 2020
We are proud that, since 2013, the UK has met the target – set by the UN in 1970 – of giving 0.7% GNI as Overseas Development Assistance. This is now under threat. Please write urgently to the Prime Minister (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (CEU.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) to urge them to preserve UK aid. Here is the letter sent by LASER Chair.
Dear Prime Minister / Chancellor
I am writing on behalf of the London and South East Region of the United Nations Association (UNA-LASER) to urge you not to reduce the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of our GNI on overseas development assistance.
We were proud to be British during the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign when – in spite of the discouragement of the tabloids – all the main UK political parties committed to achieving this aid commitment. (As you know, this target had been set by the UN in 1970, so it was high time we achieved it.) We were even more proud when the target was achieved in 2013. And then enshrined in UK law in 2015.
Poverty reduction is at the heart of the purpose of this aid, but UK aid is also tackling global challenges like disease, terrorism, migration and conflict: thus creating a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for us all. This is a win for the UK and a win for the developing world. Millions of lives have been transformed by UK aid, and the world has been made a safer place. But much more work still needs to be done if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals – at the same time, reducing economic migration and terrorism.
The 2020 Aid Transparency Index (ATI) ranked DfID as one of the only two state departments in the top ten donors for effectiveness, transparency and accountability. We hope this excellent record will continue now that DfID has become part of the new FCDO. Of course, there will sometimes be instances where the aid does not fully achieve its intention – but this is not an argument to reduce the aid, just to be even more careful in how it is spent.
We realise that the pandemic has put a strain on our national budget. (Sadly, this means a de facto reduction in our aid, as our GNI has fallen.) But many of us can afford to pay more in taxes – particularly the socially fair taxes like income tax – so this is where the additional income should come from. The pandemic has put a strain, too, on the world’s poorest, and they are only able to reduce their spending by going hungry or having more disease: please do not increase their burdens. To support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to continue at least to meet the UN’s 1970 ODA target of 0.7% Gross National Income.