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Photo Credit: Open Doors
Photo Credit: Open Doors
UK News

'It is a vital part of our moral fabric': Charities speak up against a possible permanent cut to UK's overseas aid budget

by Kelly Valencia

Reports have emerged that the government is considering a permanent cut to the UK's overseas aid budget. 

Under current law, the government is committed to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.

Speaking to Premier, Graeme Hodge, the CEO of the Methodist Relief Charity All We Can, said the current budget for foreign aid is something the UK´s economy can afford. 

"It is a vital part of our moral fabric, it's a vital part of our national interest, it's an affordable part of our national budget. 

"We're talking about 0.7 per cent of our gross national income. That's 70p of every £100 that's made. For a country as rich and as prosperous as the UK is, even with our current economic situation, it's a figure that we can afford."

There is widespread speculation that the figure could be reduced permanently to 0.5 per cent in the upcoming spending review, as the government seeks to trim budgets following the economic fallout from covid-19.

The UK is currently the only member of the G7, a group that represents the world's richest countries, that is committed to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid. This is precisely the reason why Graeme Hodge thinks that the UK's aid needs to continue.

"We can see the enormous good that aid can do and the enormous importance that aid serves for so many countries around the world.

"[Take] a country like Yemen, for example. 80 per cent of its population rely on aid to survive. And that's one of the world's worst humanitarian situations. UK aid is a contributor to that, a significant one."

He continued: "From a Christian perspective …there's a moral imperative. We feel a sense that we need to express our love and action. It's our duty as Christians to stand alongside our global neighbours and seek justice for the most vulnerable."

Under current regulation, the UK government would have to pass new laws in order to achieve the changes. Hodge wants to encourage Christians to proactively lobby against any cuts.

"They have to change [the] law in order to cut the budget. And so that's where the democratic process can really come to the fore. We'd encourage people to absolutely use their voice and their advocacy to get involved in that.

"The time to do that is quite literally today. Get on your social media channels, go onto websites and write those letters. Because whilst the government might already have made a decision about what they're going to do, we don't know entirely what that is just yet …there is still time for this to be debated. "

200 charities have written to the Prime Minister asking him not to cut the aid budget and other prominent figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury and two former prime ministers have also spoken out against the government plans. 

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