On 30th December the Bishop of Worcester received written answers to five questions on Government plans to reduce the overseas aid budget:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consult with (1) civil society, (2) faith groups, and (3) other humanitarian actors, before drafting any legislation to amend the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015. [HL11257]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: In light of economic and fiscal circumstances the Government has taken the difficult but temporary decision to spend 0.5 per cent of our national income next year on official development assistance, rather than the usual 0.7 per cent.
The Government will continue to monitor the fiscal circumstances in order to plan accordingly. We are working closely and consulting with our partners on the on impacts and priorities of our ODA spend, including through roundtables with Civil Society Organisations such as one recently chaired by Lord Ahmad. Further similar meetings are planned in early 2021.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to including a sunset clause in any legislation amending the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015. [HL11259]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The seismic impact of the pandemic has forced us to take tough decisions, including temporarily reducing our aid budget to 0.5 percent of our national income. Our intention is to return to this level as soon as the fiscal situation allows.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of when the economic situation in the UK will allow a return to the target for official development assistance of 0.7 per cent of gross national income. [HL11258]
Lord Agnew of Oulton: The Government intends to return to the 0.7% target when the fiscal situation allows. We cannot at this moment predict with certainty when the current fiscal circumstances will have sufficiently improved.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to call for the reform of the international aid spending rules set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee. [HL11261]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Foreign Secretary has been clear that we remain committed to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) rules set by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
The UK has led the way in working with others to modernise the rules where they are out of step with modern development challenges. We continue to review priorities for further reform and maintain active engagement with the DAC and DAC members.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to produce and publish an impact assessment for the proposed reduction in the UK’s spending on official development assistance. [HL11260]
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Government is introducing a new strategic approach which will allow us to drive greater impact from our ODA spending around a set of strategic objectives – even if the budget is reduced. The Government will continue to robustly monitor the impact of our aid programmes through annual reviews of our programmes, independent evaluations and input from assessments made by Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) which are all routinely published.