Rishi Sunak recently announced that £4 billion of foreign aid would be cut from the 2021 budget, which clashed with the Tories manifesto pledge to keep foreign aid at 0.7% of GDP, decreasing it to 0.5%. This came with criticism from many, even previous Prime Ministers such as David Cameron and Tony Blair, with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health arguing the decision would have “negative impacts lasting generations”. Why did the government cut foreign aid?
It appears that the main reason this decision has been made is due to the UK’s own economic situation. With the debt now over £2 trillion, and extreme fearmongering from the press, many, including the government, are arguing that we can no longer afford to give as much money to other countries. For me, these arguments fall extremely flat for a number of reasons.
To simplify a complex issue, it’s no coincidence that Britain colonized 90% off all world countries, and now these countries need our help the most
Firstly, and most importantly, we should all remember we are in a global pandemic, which consists of a global economic crisis. Britain is not the only country to be affected by coronavirus, and we are by no means the hardest hit. We are lucky that we can rely on so much borrowing. Many other countries, like those where the aid is going, do not have the same luxury of being able to fall back on more money that they can repay over a large period of time. So while these countries are being hit with the financial struggles of lockdowns, they are having more money taken away from them by our government, which could’ve helped in the fight against Covid. The shared global effort to defeat Covid was emphasised by our government when we reached out to other countries to help create a vaccine, and get participants to take them, but it seemed to stop as soon as it consisted of us helping others.
Another argument made for the cutting of aid is that our hard earned money should stay with us and not be given to others. This common attitude, which shows itself in the conversation surrounding Brexit, is one that we are somehow more deserving of wealth and that we need to only think for ourselves rather than other countries. This type of politics, in my opinion, are toxic and harms millions living in economically underfunded countries. We should all be reminded why it is that our country is so economically stable. To simplify a complex issue, it’s no coincidence that Britain colonized 90% of all world countries, and now these countries need our help the most.
If your problem is that these countries shouldn’t be dependent on our aid, then perhaps it would be beneficial to learn why they are kept in dependency; so that we can keep exploiting them for economic gain. Many seem to support the idea of going to countries, colonizing them, destroying them, setting up factories and exploiting the workers, but then act surprised when they need help and migrate to our country. Our enormous wealth has come from making other countries poor. And if we are going through hardships, then those needing aid are experiencing worse, so it should be our duty to not only keep helping, but to give more, not slash the aid at a time when it’s most needed.
We’re happy to waste money on things in this country, as long as it goes to white people, but we can’t fathom spending the same amount on black and brown people across the ocean that are in actual need
It’s also common that many people, including those in government, worry about how much money we have when it comes to issues like foreign aid, but don’t care about it when we’re told that Dominic Cummings has been given a minimum £45,000 pay rise, or when Tory friends are given huge sums of money for contracts that aren’t needed. So let’s be realistic about what the real issue is: racism. We’re happy to waste money on things in this country, as long as it goes to white people, but we can’t fathom spending the same amount on black and brown people across the ocean that are in actual need.
There are real arguments that Aid is actually counterproductive, only lands in the laps of corrupt leaders and doesn’t touch the immense wealth inequalities in the world. And I think it should be made clear that I don’t think Aid needs to be held up as a saviour for these countries. But if you argue Aid isn’t beneficial, then the argument needs to be reframed into how we can fix it and make it more tactful. There are many issues with the way aid works, but cutting the funding going to it, just because it’s claimed we need more money, isn’t the way forward, and is only rooted in a nationalistic racist approach that seems to be growing in the UK.