Today, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has published its provisional statistics report on how UK aid was spent in 2021. It includes comparisons with its 2020 spend, and confirms the government chose to carve out £4.6bn from the UK aid budget to meet its reduced pot of 0.5% of GNI – cut last year from the UN target of 0.7%.
Other key points include: the UK’s excess Covid-19 vaccine donations were taken from the UK aid budget to meet the 0.5% target – confirmed by the OECD today; the FCDO took more cuts, proportionately, than the other departments that received UK aid funding; Africa, compared to any other region, had the biggest share of the cuts – both in terms of absolute numbers and percentage of cuts.
In response to today’s report, Simon Starling, director of policy, advocacy and research, at Bond, said:
“These figures painfully illustrate the government’s gutting of UK aid and the devastating consequences. By cutting £4.6 billion to meet the shrunken budget of 0.5% of GNI, we have turned our backs on marginalised people facing conflict, poverty, disease and climate change.
“Counting excess vaccines as UK aid is morally wrong as it robs countries in crisis, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, of life-saving support. The government has added salt to the wound by choosing to use what little remains of the diminished UK aid budget to reimburse its other departments for the donation of excess Covid-19 vaccines and for refugee processing. “To prevent further damage, the UK must urgently refocus UK aid on those living in extreme poverty – and develop and make public their plan for a return to 0.7%.”
Notes to editor:
Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
The FCDO’s report, Statistics on International Development: Provisional UK Aid Spend 2021, can be found here.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirms the UK counted excess vaccines as UK aid on page 12 of their Official Development Assistance statistics report, published today, here.
The final estimate of UK aid spend, as well as the UK aid:GNI ratio and more detailed breakdowns of spend, will be published this autumn in Statistics on International Development: Final UK Aid Spend 2021.
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