Statement: The cut to to the overseas aid target

The Jo Cox Foundation is deeply dismayed by news that the 0.7% overseas aid target will be cut to 0.5% next year. As a lifelong humanitarian, we believe Jo would have proactively opposed this measure. It not only counters the UK's legal obligations, but our moral duty to support the world's most vulnerable and Britain’s place in the world as a force for good. 

 

No commitment has been made to when the 0.7% target will be reinstated. We acknowledge that Covid-19 has had widespread repercussions on the UK’s communities and economy, and that the future remains uncertain. However, this lack of clarity over the timeframe regarding the reinstatement of 0.7% is deeply concerning, particularly with regard to the future security of the target. The impacts of Covid-19 will be long-lasting globally beyond 2021 and we must not abandon those to whom we had previously committed long-term support. 

The announcement also coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  Women and girls bear the brunt of crisis situations. At a moment when the government should be championing efforts made to secure the safety and empowerment of women and girls globally, they have enacted a policy which will inevitably see their suffering increase. The widespread impact of potential cuts to programmes that prevent gender-based violence, as well as the impact on education, access to contraception and family planning, and the subsequent impingement on women’s leadership and political participation, will have resounding negative impacts on the advancement of gender equality. Indeed, this is one of the key themes of the Jo Cox Memorial Grant Fund, and we resolve to continue supporting women and girls in every way we can. 

The image of a ‘Global Britain’ has been severely tarnished by this announcement.  Collectively we face a growing number of global challenges, ranging from more frequent global health emergencies to famine and natural disasters as the climate crisis worsens. Reneging on our commitments to the world’s most vulnerable during a time of acute crisis is a catastrophic decision. It also places the UK in a severely weakened position as we move forward in a much changed world, particularly ahead of the UK hosting of the G7 and COP26 next year. 

We urge the Prime Minister and Chancellor to reconsider this decision and reinstate the 0.7% overseas aid Budget.  The cut to 0.5% serves only to harm those around the world already suffering the most. Charity begins at home - but it should not end there. We share this planet with millions who are suffering - and we should stand by our legal and moral responsibility to support them. 

Catherine Anderson, CEO of The Jo Cox Foundation, is available for comment. Please contact [email protected] or Lance Price via [email protected]foundation.org or 07816265801 for enquiries.