6 June 2021

Over a thousand academics, NGO's and business leaders have called on the Prime Minister to reverse cuts to aid programmes to avoid "casting a shadow" on the UK's role as host of this year's G7 Summit.

In the letter, they say:

"The UK’s decision to cut its aid commitment during a pandemic casts a shadow over its ability to deliver at this year's critical G7 summit. While other G7 countries have stepped up their aid budget, the UK is the only one to have rowed back on its commitments... Without a reversal to this decision, the UK’s credibility and voice on the international stage will be undermined, and its calls to other G7 leaders to do more on critical issues such as vaccine delivery, civic space, education, gender equality, healthcare, climate change and famine prevention risk ringing hollow..."

"...The decision to cut back UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding, removing 70% of funds from some programmes, has damaged long-term global partnerships and our ability to innovate and create evidence for effective ways to tackle worldwide issues."

The charities, business leaders and academics state that "despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns and national response, economic forecasts by the Bank of England predict we are set to return to pre-pandemic levels of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2021. There is, therefore, no justifiable economic need to continue to break our promise to the world’s most marginalised people."

The letter to the Prime Minister comes as the UK is set to host G7 in less than a week, and as the government continues to cut funding to programmes and research for development and humanitarian programmes, forcing nutrition centres and health clinics to close, water and sanitation projects to be cancelled, 78,000 healthcare professionals left untrained and over 700 million donated treatments to treat neglected tropical disease at risk of going to waste. 

More than 30 Conservative MPs, including former ministers Damian Green, Stephen Crabb and Johnny Mercer, plan to attempt to reverse the cuts on Monday by voting to amend legislation related to a new scientific research agency.

ENDS

  1. A copy of the letter, signed by over 1,700 NGOs, academics and business leaders can be found here: PDF icon 20210605_letter_to_the_prime_minister_-_g7.pdf
  2. Signatories from NGOs, academia and business leaders include UN Global Compact Network UK, International Chamber of Commerce UK, The Partnering Initiative, Business Fights Poverty, Cotton Connect, Oxfam GB, Save the Children, Amref Health Africa UK, WWF-UK, ActionAid UK, CAFOD, and academics from The University of East Anglia, Durham University, Bristol University, The University of Cambridge, Edinburgh University. 
  3. The letter comes as the UK prepares to host the G7 Leader's Summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on 11-13 June and as conservative MPs attempt to push for a vote in parliament to restore aid spending target of 0.7% of national income.