Church brands decision to cut international aid budget a "moral failure"

The Church of Scotland is "bitterly disappointed" that MPs in the House of Commons voted to cut the UK's international aid budget.

Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly, described the decision as a "moral failure" after members voted by a majority of 35 in favour of the UK Government's proposal to cut the budget from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.

The reduction amounts to almost £4 billion.

Several Conservative MPs joined Labour and other parties in an attempt to reinstate the 0.7% figure in place until earlier this year.

International aid in Zambia
An international aid food distribution centre in the Mwandi region of Zambia.

Lord Wallace said: "I am bitterly disappointed in the outcome of today's vote on aid spending which will see the continuation of harmful and damaging cuts to some of the world's poorest people and most fragile communities.

"Cutting the international development budget below the 0.7% target continues to be a breach of the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015.

"It is completely contrary to the manifesto commitments made by all the main political parties – this decision is a moral failure by the UK Government.

"What we choose to spend our money on is a very real sign of our priorities and the cuts that have already been made have had a devastating impact.

"Poorer nations are still struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to provide access to basic healthcare, sanitation and vaccinations.

"At this time they need more, not less, support to develop infrastructure, mitigate the impact of the climate crisis and work to overcome violence against women and girls.

Lord Wallace
Lord Wallace

"In 1958, the World Council of Churches first proposed a global minimum target for rich countries to spend to support aid and development around the world.

"We have been supporting this cause for over 60 years and we will continue to call on all parties to work for a restoration of the 0.7% target.

"What we choose to spend our money on is a very real sign of our priorities.

"Our commitment to financial aid to help the world's poorest people and most fragile communities shows our values and priorities - to show love to strangers, even those who have different cultures, languages and religions.

"Through the Church of Scotland's international partnerships and relations, we know the very real impact that global and sustainable development is having on poverty, education and healthcare.

"I am so thankful to all those MPs who voted today to restore the international aid spending commitment back to the 0.7% target and all those Church members who have written messages, signed petitions, joined protests and prayed for this outcome.

"The spirit of Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History lives on."

In May, the General Assembly backed a motion calling on the UK Government and Westminster Parliament to continue to provide a minimum of 0.7% of Gross National Income as Overseas Development Assistance in line with the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015 and all main parties' 2019 manifesto commitments.

The Church of Scotland has many partnerships with churches all across the world. The four main regional areas where they are located are Africa and the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.