Thank you for contacting me about overseas aid.
Like many of my colleagues, I am a firm supporter of overseas aid and I recognise the benefits that it brings. From helping to stabilise and develop countries on every continent, to specific measures to educate young women and assist those living in the aftermath of war. The UK should be proud of its legacy and its commitment to hundreds of nations across the globe. Making the world a safer, better, and fairer place to live in is firmly in the UK’s national interest.
However, we must adapt to the challenges that we face here and now. As the Chancellor has made clear in his statement, we are in a period of immense difficulty for our economy and public finances. It is simply not sustainable for public borrowing to remain at current levels. That is why the government has taken the difficult decision to temporarily cut the amount we give in foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income (GNI).
Even with this cut, the UK remains among the most generous countries in the world for overseas aid and the second highest donor in the G7. We will still be spending £10 billion on a range of vital programmes, from peacekeeping to vaccinations. We are continuing with vital projects such as contributing to GAVI - an organisation which provides vaccinations to over 75m children and the Government has recently pledged £155 million in aid to support peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The announcement of £16.5bn in defence spending over four years will ensure British influence and humanitarian programmes are safeguarded well into the future. With this funding boost, the armed forces can continue and expand programmes such as assisting Lebanon following the explosion in the Port of Beirut, delivering disaster relief to Central American countries ravaged by Hurricane Eta, and transporting vital medical supplies to communities struggling against coronavirus in West Africa and the UK’s Overseas Territories.
It is a matter of regret for me that this action had to be taken, but I remain hopeful that after this crisis passes, the 0.7% commitment will be restored. In the meantime, I am confident that the UK will remain a global leader in overseas aid and support.
Thank you again for writing to me.