Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest

David Taylor writes about the cut to international development that was included in the autumn statement

David Taylor is the chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development (LCID, @LabourCID)

Whilst the Conservatives’ misguided austerity drive is hurting hard working families up and down the country, this government has at least claimed that they would not be balancing the books on the back of the world’s poorest people.

Indeed, only on Monday did secretary of state Andrew Mitchell say in an interview with the Financial Times that;

“The prime minister, the chancellor and I have made it absolutely clear that we stand by this commitment and that we won’t balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world.”

LCID have already detailed in length how this government is failing to show the necessary ambition, vision and leadership on international development – most notably on their opposition to a Robin Hood Tax at either a global or an EU level – at the recent G20 Summit in Cannes there was categorical evidence they were lobbying hard against a global agreement being reached.

The key line of the defence of the Conservatives to this charge was that they were ring-fencing the aid budget – something we have praised. But on Tuesday even this was undermined.

For in the autumn statement not only did Osborne reaffirm his opposition to a Robin Hood Tax, not only did relax measures meant to tackle climate change – he actually cut the aid budget by nearly £1.2 billion.

Osborne said;

“the spending plans of the Department for International Development meant that the UK was on course to exceed 0.7 per cent of national income in 2013.

That I don’t think can be justified and so we are adjusting those plans so we don’t overshoot the target.”

Osborne is being incredibly disingenuous here. Let’s be clear – firstly, ‘adjusting’ DFID’s plans means a cut of £1.17bn to the amount they committed to spend in the 2010 spending review, as the box below illustrates;

Secondly, DFID was not due to ‘overspend’ when the department’s spending plans were first set in 2010. The only reason they are now is because GNI projections are now in 2011 lower than they should have been – and that is because Osborne’s ruinous economic policies have flat-lined the economy.

And even if we were to admonish this government of blame for our perilous economic position, this government should have had the courage to resist wielding the axe – UK aid never reduced under Labour, even during the height of the recession.

When Alasdair Darling delivered his 2009 budget, the global recession had reduced the UK’s GNI – yet the then Labour government still kept to the higher figures we promised in the 2007 comprehensive spending review. And not only that, we actually spent more in 2009-10 than we committed to in the 2007 CSR; £1.8 billion more over the two years.

The historic 0.7 per cent target was never meant to be a maximum limit. It was meant to be a minimum amount representing our minimum commitment to the world.

Relative to the UK’s total government expenditure of £170 billion, the amount cut is not a large amount – and it won’t make a dent on the deficit.

But the impact on some of the world’s poorest people could have been massive. The amount cut represents;

• Enough to vaccinate 5.3 billion people against polio (it costs £2.22 to pay for 10 vaccinations)

• More than DFID’s entire spend on health

• Two-thirds the amount DFID spends in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa

• The same amount of aid the UK has pledged to Bangladesh over the next 4 years

The key questions that must now be asked are the following;

1. Where will money be cut from? On which DFID or multilateral programmes will not be either cut or left unrealised?

2. When will they bring forward the legislation they promised and enshrine in law the requirement to meet the 0.7% target from 2013? Labour drafted legislation that was ready go, so why the continued delay and equivocation over the date for tabling it in Parliament?

3. If the UK economy improves, will Osborne restore the amount he cut?

This government claim not to be balancing the books on the back of the world’s poorest people has been severely undermined. This £1.2 billion cut is a clever move by Osborne to appease the Tory right – who have been relentless in their opposition to UK aid – whilst remaining within the technicalities of their promises.

But as a result of their cut thousands of people who could have been helped by Britain – been immunised, gone to school or received treatment from HIV and AIDS – may now pay the price of this government’s failing economic policies.

See also:

Britain should be proud of the progress made in battling pneumoniaIvan Lewis MP, November 14th 2011

Cameron is abdicating his responsibility on international developmentDavid Taylor, October 14th 2011

International development back in the news – where it belongsJim Dobbin MP, June 8th 2011

An open letter to David Cameron on the importance of the 0.7% targetDavid Taylor, May 17th 2011

International development will test Clegg at Lib Dem conferenceDavid Taylor, September 16th 2010

42 Responses to “Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest”

  1. Anonymous

    Whereas you want to dump the debts on future generations.

    If its evil that children in the third world have to pay for debts run up by kleptomanic leaders, why isn’t it evil in the UK?

    Why should every child receive a present of 225,000 of debt (linked to inflation) as their start in life?

  2. Anonymous

    You can always make a personal donation. Anyone can.

    However, forcing people into debt to make such payments isn’t moral either.

  3. LCID

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  4. CAROLE JONES

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID's @DavidTaylor85: http://t.co/IQbX435a #as11

  5. Ann Pettifor

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  6. Evidence 4 Action

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  7. advocacyAi

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  8. Ahmad Noor

    RT leftfootfwd: Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID: http://t.co/YBS6P1ba #as11

  9. David Taylor

    Aid should not be cut by £1.2bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy – my article for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/wmLdclmo

  10. Michael

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/tJTeiEuF

  11. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest http://t.co/DARaJJCF

  12. Political Planet

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest: David Taylor writes about the cut to interna… http://t.co/pKvaLeDw

  13. Panda

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID's @DavidTaylor85: http://t.co/IQbX435a #as11

  14. PeterSmirniotopoulos

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest: David Taylor writes about the cut to interna… http://t.co/pKvaLeDw

  15. Tom Ladds

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID's @DavidTaylor85: http://t.co/IQbX435a #as11

  16. Jupiter07

    Is Aid Killing Africa? Dambisa Moyo talks about Dead Aid on ABC

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIPvlQOCfAQ&feature=related

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/feb/19/dambisa-moyo-dead-aid-africa

    “Everybody knows it doesn’t work’

    Despite receiving more than $1 trillion from the west over the last half century, Africa remains in dire economic straits. Dambisa Moyo thinks aid is to blame and should stop now. She talks to Aida Edemariam”

  17. David Taylor

    One book does not undermine a bank of evidence proving good aid saves lives – GAVI has for example immunised over 326 million children from disease – http://www.gavialliance.org/about/mission/impact/

    UK aid is a world leader in aid effectiveness and has permanently lifted 3 million people out of poverty each year. That’s money well spent I’d say.

  18. Jonathan Bartley

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  19. Cllr Mark Bennett

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  20. Shalom Activist

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  21. Phil Maylor

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  22. Jupiter07

    If you read Dambissa Moyo’s work, it isn’t a case of stopping emergency aid, but rather the massive and pointless cash handouts between governments that entrench political corruption.

    Aid is also pointless from Britain’s point of view when we spend £16 billion per annum subsidising the EU’s disgusting and wastefuil Common Agricultural Policy

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/eu-subsidies-deny-africas-farmers-of-their-livelihood-478419.html

    “British households pay an extra £832 a year in grocery bills due to the huge EU subsidy system that is also depriving tens of thousands of African farmers of their livelihoods, a charity warns.”

    and

    “The £30bn-a-year EU agricultural subsidy regime is one of the biggest iniquities facing farmers in Africa and other developing counties. They cannot export their products because they compete with the lower prices made possible by payments.

    In addition, European countries dump thousands of tons of subsidised exports in Africa every year so that local producers cannot even compete on a level playing field in their own land”

    Slash aid and increase trade!

  23. TheCreativeCrip

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/tJTeiEuF

  24. Girl Interrupted

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/tJTeiEuF

  25. David Taylor

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  26. LCID

    RT leftfootfwd: Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID: http://t.co/YBS6P1ba #as11

  27. LCID

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID's @DavidTaylor85: http://t.co/IQbX435a #as11

  28. David Taylor

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  29. Ben Cooper

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  30. Donna Govan

    Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest, writes @LabourCID's @DavidTaylor85: http://t.co/IQbX435a #as11

  31. Chris Salter

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest http://t.co/k6ckdeJG #ppnews #polio

  32. David Taylor

    I didn’t say it was a comment on emergency aid. Budget sector support – that is aid given to a country to help them build a sustainbly financed health or education sector is difficult but in the long term one of the most effective forms of aid, if done properly, as it is through DFID.

    And I have always advocated trade reform as have LCID and agree that CAP should be abolished.

  33. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories are balancing the books on the backs of the world's poorest http://t.co/AnV5HiqK

  34. Jupiter07

    Good – that means you must be in favour of EU withdrawal because the CAP is written into the Treaties. The CAP has now been going on for nearly 50 years and will never be reformed. You cannot get rid of the CAP without unanimity across the EU and with all those EU states with a vested interest in the CAP, a treaty change on this issue never has and never will be achieved.

    Trade is a far, far superior mechanism for development than aid and Quango’s and it is worth far more, has less govenment involvement and has no need for politicised quangos to interfere. Trade is what has enabled India to prosper and is what will lift Africa’s living standards.

    Scrap foreign aid (except emergency aid), scrap the CAP and have open trade – thats the future and Dambissa Moyo is brilliant!

  35. Oxfam South West

    @DavidTaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/njb9udbx

  36. Mr. Sensible

    Disgrace.

  37. Clive Burgess

    Osborne now talking abt international aid – for the reality of the Tories' policy on aid, see: http://t.co/IQbX435a

  38. Luke Rigg

    Aid should not be cut by £1.bn because of Osborne's mismanagement of the economy says @DavidTaylor85 for @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/t7W1jeaq

  39. Simon Barrow

    V good work by @davidtaylor85 highlighting how Government is cutting aid budget by £1.2 bn http://t.co/vixFQs2x

  40. David Taylor

    @jonathanglennie sorry I know point of twitter is 140 characters but this is better exp of I what mean http://t.co/3OTEY1RL

  41. Conservatives to meet aid target by counting ‘made up’ debt relief as aid | Left Foot Forward

    […] cutting the aid budget again, following on the heels of Osborne’s decision to cut the aid budget by £1.2bn because their mismanagement of the economy has seen GDP […]

  42. There must be cross-party commitment to passing the 0.7% international aid bill | Left Foot Forward

    […] a £1.2bn cut to the aid budget it made their promise “not to balance the books on the backs of the world’s […]

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