The UK and development spending

 

Sir, – Your editorial of November 30th “Ploughshares into swords” said that the UK’s reduction in development spending was disappointing for a permanent member of the Security Council.

The economic fallout from Covid has obliged governments around the world to make tough decisions. Our economy is due to shrink 11 per cent this year and our borrowing will be almost £400 billion. Given these pressures, we have decided – reluctantly and temporarily – to reduce the amount spent on overseas aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income. We will return to 0.7 per cent as soon as the fiscal situation allows.

At 0.5 per cent, we will remain one of the most generous international donors, spending much more than, for example, Japan, Canada or Italy. Next year we will spend more than £10 billion, to fight poverty and climate change, improve global health, educate girls, support open societies, and help to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Our increased defence spending is also a reflection of our international responsibilities, to the UN as well as to Nato. We are one of the top contributors to the UN’s regular budget, and to its peacekeeping budget. And a major donor to its funds and programmes, including the World Health Organisation. Some 250 British troops will shortly join the UN’s operation in Mali, where Ireland is also deployed. We look forward to developing our co-operation in the UN Security Council when Ireland joins in January. – Yours, etc,

PAUL JOHNSTON,

UK Ambassador

to Ireland,

British Embassy, Dublin 4 .