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Lords oppose Government’s intention to break the UK’s commitment to Official Development Assistance spending from 2021

Wednesday 25 November 2020

In a letter sent this afternoon to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Dominic Rabb MP, the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee expressed its opposition to the Government’s intention to break the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2021.

Baroness Anelay, Chair of the Committee, during a discussion with the Secretary of State earlier today, outlined the main concerns expressed by the Committee including reminding him that the 0.7% spending commitment is enshrined in UK law as a legal duty and the Committee opposed the introduction of any legislation to remove it.

During the Committee’s discussion, members highlighted the vital role aid spending has in complementing the UK’s defence and diplomatic activity, and the adverse effect this spending reduction would have on the UK’s ability to tackle long-term global challenges such as climate change and mass migration. There would also be considerable further disadvantage to some of the world’s poorest people and significant damage to the UK’s international influence and soft power.

The Committee remains strongly of the view expressed in its July 2020 report into the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa that the 0.7% GNI spend on “international development should be maintained” (Paragraph 313)  and asked the Foreign Secretary for information on the policy rationale for the reduction, and whether the Government has undertaken a cost-benefit analysis of this decision.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, Chair of the International Relations and Defence Committee said:

“Aid spending is an essential component of the UK’s international engagement. We oppose removing the UK’s legal duty to adhere to the 0.7% spending commitment.

“The UK’s aid has already been reduced by £2.9 billion this year as a result of the decrease in Gross National Income resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. A further cut from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI from 2021 would result in a significant further decrease in ODA at a time when this budget is already strained.

“We have consistently supported the UK’s legal commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on international development and have requested that the Government inform us of the policy rationale for this decision and whether a cost-benefit analysis of the decision has been undertaken.”

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