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UK Aid Cut Condemned

Wednesday November 25 2020

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. By Chris McAndrew,  CC BY 3.0

The Church of Scotland and Christian Aid have criticised the decision to cut the UK’s spending on overseas aid.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced in today’s spending review that the aid budget would be cut from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% - a reduction of more than £4bn.

The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said the decision would do ‘irreparable harm to our partners around the world’ who are also suffering the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Brown said: “Cutting this work is short-sighted and tarnishes the UK’s international reputation.

“In times of global need, it is those with the broadest shoulders that need to support others.

“International development is not about charity, it is essential to the delivery of the vision of a Global Britain, as foreign aid supports UK priorities.

“Protecting public health, promoting human rights, tackling violence against women, mitigating against climate change.

“Helping to build stable economies and societies will have long term benefits for international peace and security.

“The Church of Scotland has supported the campaign for 0.7% for international development budget for many years.

“We ask MPs of all parties to urge the UK Government to reconsider, for the sake of humanity and because of what this decision says about what kind of country we aspire to be.”

Charities and churches had reacted with alarm when the decision was leaked earlier this month, and responded angrily when it was confirmed today. Mr Sunak told the House of Commons that 'sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people' and  'at a time of unprecedented crisis government must make tough choices'.

Head of Christian Aid Scotland, Sally Foster-Fulton, said: “Cuts have consequences and this decision will pile yet more pressure onto the millions of people worldwide who’ve been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the global pandemic. Cutting the aid budget during a pandemic is like closing fire stations during a heatwave.

“These are tough times and the UK Government has tough decisions to make but balancing the books on the backs of the poor isn’t the way to do it. Over the past nine months many of us have come to realise just how interconnected our lives are with others across the world, our global neighbours. With coronavirus pushing tens of millions further into poverty this is not the time to renege on our promise to help the world’s poorest.”

On Twitter, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, said the cut would ‘leave the vulnerable in a more perilous state’, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described it as ‘shameful and wrong’, and Christian development charity Tearfund said it was ‘cruel and badly calculated’.


MR PETER HAGENBUCH - Friday, November 27th, 2020

“Desperately sad to hear this. Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard”

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