In a joint statement, Dr Bruce and Dr Hughes said, “The value and support that international aid can bring and the difference that it can make is unquestionable. We very much regret and share the deep disappointment of many in our Church, and our aid development partners, that the UK government has broken its promise on overseas aid. In going ahead with its planned overseas aid cut from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI), it is a far cry from 2013 when the UK became the first G7 nation to achieve the United Nations’ target of spending 0.7 per cent of its GNI.
“While some may say it is only a cut of point zero two of a per cent, or ‘just £4 billion’ we want to express our outright dismay at what seems to be the UK’s diminishing commitment to supporting the poorest people on the planet. It is a reduction that will affect millions of lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable and marginalised people, especially during the biggest global humanitarian disaster in a century, which cannot be right.”
Dr Bruce and Dr Hughes concluded by saying, “Alongside keeping your promises, this is first and foremost about caring for our global neighbours, which is a gospel imperative. As we have said before, it is a basic humanitarian value as well, shared by people of all faiths and none, and this should include secular governments. As the Financial Times reported this week, the ‘UK risks becoming an outlier as the only G7 country to reduce its aid commitments…’ The effect of this cut in overseas aid on people who are struggling, far outweighs even the damage done to this government’s standing and reputation.”
In November of last year the Moderator and Dr Hughes spoke of their concern when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, initially announced that the UK’s overseas aid budget would be cut by a third. This announcement led to the debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Along with PCI’s development partners, they also spoke out in July of last year at plans to merge the UK’s Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Moderator wrote to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP at the time asking him to reconsider this decision. Dr Bruce did so given the Church’s genuine concerns that ‘it would jeopardise the UK’s world-leading humanitarian work amongst the world’s poorest and most marginalised peoples.’