The SMP is hugely disappointed that the UK Government has announced its intention to renege on its commitment to invest 0.7% of GNI on international development, despite the repeated written assurances we have received from the UK Government that this would not happen and an explicit manifesto promise.
The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Africa Minister have all given commitments to maintaining 0.7%, each highlighting that it is ‘enshrined in law’, ‘right and serves the national interest’.
While we appreciate the unprecedented financial pressure the country is under, we believe it is simply untrue to frame this as an economic necessity for two reasons:
First, this cut of c£4bn a year to aid was announced while also heralding a £16.5bn increase in military expenditure, much of which is to be used in space.
Second, unlike almost all other government budgets, the aid commitment is a percentage of GNI rather than a fixed figure; so, as the economy shrinks, so too does the investment in aid. Since the pandemic started, UK aid has already shrunk, both because of the contracting UK economy and because of disruption caused to many projects due to Covid. To then single out aid as for an additional c30% cut is a political decision and, we feel, a moral and leadership failure.
Too often the poorest people in the world have the quietest voice and hence are the first to be targeted. These cuts will cause an estimated 100,000 avoidable deaths, mostly children.
The SMP has been working in the last week with senior political leaders of all stripes to try and avoid this outcome. We have been in close contact with long-term supporter of the SMP, Ruth Davidson MSP, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who has been outspoken in her criticism, alongside every living former PM.
A long-term shift from 0.7% will require a change in the law, this can be stopped if enough MPs break ranks. We encourage members to contact their MPs on this issue, especially if those with a Conservative MP.
CLICK HERE to find your Westminster constituency and local MP.
Please ask your MP if they will speak, and vote, against the proposed cut to UK Aid.
We profoundly disagree with the suggestion that reneging on our legally-binding 0.7% UN commitment to aid during a global humanitarian crisis, while increasing military expenditure, will help ‘increase Britain’s global standing’.
This is not the image Scotland wishes to project to the world: we are proud to be an outward-facing nation, a good global citizen and a longstanding friend of countries like Malawi. The people of Malawi, will undoubtedly feel the impact of this proposed cut to UK aid: if the 30% cut is evenly spread, this will mean c£19 million of life-saving development work lost. On their behalf, we stand in solidarity to make known the strong sense of disappointment and frustration felt in Scotland after all the reassurances we have received.
Here’s some of those assurances we’ve received in recent months from the UK Government that it will not cut it's 0.7% GNI commitment to helping the world’s poorest...