The United Kingdom will be cutting 1.1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) from its foreign aid budget, but says it will maintain its commitment to allocate 0.7 percent of gross national income for foreign spending.
A weak economy has forced the country to cut its spending on overseas aid, with reductions to be spread over the next three years. This means the Department for International Development would have to reduce its spending from 8.6 billion pounds to 8.2 billion pounds in 2012-2013, 11 billion pounds to 10.8 billion pounds in 2013-2014 and 11.1 billion pounds to 10.6 billion pounds in 2014-2015.
“This government will stick by the commitments it has made to the poorest people in the world by increasing our international development budget – and the whole house should be proud of the help our country is providing to eradicate disease, save lives and educate children. But the spending plans of the Department for International Development meant that the UK was on course to exceed 0.7% of national income in 2013. That I don’t think can be justified and so we are adjusting those plans so we don’t overshoot the target,” U.K. Chancellor George Osborne said.
Aid organizations expressed their disappointment over the decision, but hinted they understand the situation.
“We are disappointed that lower than expected UK growth means the world’s poorest people will get less help, especially as they are already suffering in an economic crisis they did nothing to cause. But ministers deserve credit during these difficult economic times for sticking to their commitment to invest 0.7% of national income in aid. We expect the government to reverse these cuts if growth exceeds expectations,” Oxfam Senior Policy Adviser Claire Godfrey said, as reported by The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Save the Children Director of Policy and Advocacy Brendan Cox said, “We welcome the government’s continuing commitment to meet their international pledge on the 0.7% target, in spite of tough times. This will mean millions of lives saved in countries where the impact of the global downturn may be greatest.”
To show it is not running away from aid commitments despite the funding cut, the United Kingdom, in a report from The Guardian, has pledged 35 million pounds for family planning in developing countries at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal. It will also invest 19 million pounds in improving sanitation and hygiene in Zambia’s rural areas, which will run for a period of four years, according to Zambia Daily Mail.
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