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Published on 27 November 2020

So much for levelling up

Christian Aid Campaigns Manager, Luke Harman explains how the cut to UK aid is a broken promise to the world's poorest, and how Christian Aid is responding.

The UK Prime Minister has regularly stressed his Government’s 'levelling up' agenda and recently launched of plan that promised a green industrial revolution, and thousands of new jobs.

Whilst by no means perfect, there's much in the plan that we should all welcome. If implemented, it could set the UK on course to a sustainable future. With the UK hosting the UN climate talks next November, the UK’s level of ambition on climate change will be crucial to convincing others to up their game. And there’s still time for us to influence the UK to submit an ambitious national climate plan to the UN before the year is out.

Yet this desire to ‘level up’ seems to stop at our borders with a cut in the aid budget announced this week - from 0.7 to 0.5% of national income.

This decision will pile yet more pressure onto the millions of people worldwide who’ve been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the global pandemic.

Cutting the aid budget during a global pandemic is like closing fire stations during a heatwave.
These are tough times and the UK Government has tough decisions to make, but balancing the books on the backs of the poor isn’t the way to do it.

Meeting our promises on aid is not only the right thing to do, it was enshrined as a promise in law and in the Conservative Party manifesto. As Desmond Tutu said 'a promise to the poor is particularly sacred'.

What have we been doing?

Since the announcement was trailed last week, we’ve been hard at work, with our CEO Amanda Khozi Mukwashi speaking out on various media outlets.

We’ve teamed up with other NGOs and charities, and written to the PM with over 185 organisations across civil society and business groups.

And we’ve worked with church partners to support Archbishop Justin Welby's interventions and with other Bishops behind the scenes to urge No.10 to rethink this decision.

Moving forward we will continue to push the UK Government to reconsider these cuts and will keep pressing for a fair and just global recovery to the coronavirus pandemic.

This must be a recovery which ensures that countries dealing with coronavirus don’t have to do so with their arms tied behind their backs in the form of unsustainable debt repayments. And it must be a recovery that puts climate justice its heart.