Additional reporting from David Taylor
Civil servants in the Department for International Development are recommending that Ministers drop close to 100 public commitments including many with “strong public backing”. Among those for the chop are commitments to double support to global education and to spend £6 billion of new money on health services and systems.
“The full list of commitments we recommend dropping is at Annex 1. These have been categorised by those we think have strong public backing and are likely to be resisted; will upset other government departments; have individual vocal support; will be overtaken by new Ministerial priorities or initiatives; or are unlikely to be noticed. There will be stakeholders who will argue we should keep some of these eg. the US and the Gates Foundation with respect to polio and neglected tropical diseases.”
The list includes plans to:
• Double support to global education, reaching £1 billion by 2010 as part of a commitment to spend at least £8.5 billion in the 10 years to 2015;
• Spend £6bn on health services and systems by 2015;
• Quadruple support to fair and ethical trade; and
• £1 billion per year on support to growth and trade.
The recommendations follow the Conservative party’s intention – set out in ‘One World Conservatism‘ – to achieve “value for money through output-based aid” through an approach that “will measure success by outputs and outcomes, not inputs.” The approach was not endorsed in the Coalition Programme. Many of the proposals listed in Annex were proposed in Labour’s White Paper last summer, ‘Eliminating World Poverty: Building our common future‘.
In addition to worries about the public commitments that face the chop, there will be concerns that some policies recommended for the scrapheap are actually output-focused. These include existing pledges to “Support 8 million children in school in Africa by 2010″ and to “Help 25m people gain access to water & sanitation in Africa over next 5 years & 30mn people in S. Asia by 2011″.
Responding to Left Foot Forward’s story, Shadow Minister for International Development, Gareth Thomas MP said:
“This leaked list is deeply shocking. It shows behind all the warm words about keeping our commitments to the worlds poorest – Tory Ministers are planning to abandon many of the key commitments which have established the UK as a leader in tackling global poverty and disease over recent years.
“Other commitments amazingly earmarked for dropping include Labour’s commitment to scale up funding for the incredibly successful ethical and fairtrade movement, and to support work with faith based organisations.
“Officials have also been asked by ministers to cynically earmark commitments they think can be dropped without anyone noticing – including UK support to the UN Peacbuilding Fund.
“These revelations seriously undermine any claims the government have made about taking the international development agenda seriously and will shock many of the organisations who have campaigned over many years for these commitments.”
Joseph O’Reilly, Chair of the UK Global Campaign for Education said:
“This is deeply worrying document. If the commitment to doubling aid to education is scrapped it would undermine years of good work by campaigners and the public to put education in developing countries on the government’s agenda. Developing countries could be currently losing out on as much as $70bn a year in economic growth by not offering quality education to all citizens, so to scrap plans to double aid for schools is economic short-termism of the highest order. David Cameron must resist this cut, and re-state his commitment to International Development and education in particular.