Global Britain must protect the UK Aid Budget to show its leadership role and to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals
06 April 2021
Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) and Muslim community and charity leaders recognise the long-standing positive impact that the UK Government has in supporting communities in need around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected people living in the UK in many areas, with a resulting impact upon the UK economy.
Despite this, the recent announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of plans to cut the UK Aid budget for international development is very worrying as it propose to reduce it from 0.7% to 0.5% of the Gross National Income GNI, representing a £5 billion loss to developing countries. The 0.7% target has been enshrined in law since 2013 and this reduction will result in a serious impact on people living in desperate conditions globally. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced millions of people into poverty worldwide and is the biggest humanitarian crisis this century.
MCF and its partners and representatives are very concerned about the Government’s intentions to cut the international development budget and believe this will lead to serious implications for vulnerable people, children and those living in abject poverty. Below are a summary of views from across the sector and Muslim community.
“Britons and the British government has always prided itself on supporting communities around the world and pushing for the rights of people. Reducing the budget for international development could not happen at a worse time. It will mean millions of children will not be immunised, many more will go without food and too many children will still not be able to access vital education. UK income has dropped but the 0.7% is still affordable as a proportion of the UK’s current wealth. The international community has always relied on the UK leadership in the most challenging circumstances.” Dr Hany El-Banna OBE, Chairman World Humanitarian Action Forum
“The cuts of UK Aid to developing counties could not come at a worse time. Covid-19 has affected everyone and for those in countries without proper access to healthcare and sanitation, the spread of Covid-19 has been catastrophic. Reducing the aid at a time like this breaks the UK’s promise to the global community and will put millions of lives at risk. We must do better.” Shaykh Haytham Tamim, Founder and Senior Imam, Utrujj Foundation
“Cutting UK Aid from 0.7% to 0.5% to developing countries, will have a huge impact on health, education and food supply for people around the world who are living in severe poverty due to war, drought or famine. This is shocking news which will put millions of lives at risk and we are very disappointed to hear the government’s decision.” Dr Husna Ahmed OBE, CEO Global One
‘The UK government’s commitment in 2015 to invest 0.7% of GNI in international development demonstrated real leadership from our country on the world stage, and now, at times of unprecedented need and uncertainty around the world we should rise even further as ‘Global Britain’ and not surrender our commitments to support for the world’s most vulnerable.’ Madiha Raza, Board Member, Muslim Charities Forum (MCF)
“Covid-19 is a global pandemic and it has hit the UK hard. However, the needs of people in disadvantaged countries are even higher than before and they rely upon the aid from the UK and other developed countries in their fight against Covid-19 and severe poverty. These cuts are extremely disappointing news and will compromise the UK position in standing with vulnerable communities around the world.” Dr Mohammed Ashmawy, CEO Human Appeal
‘The global pandemic is threatening to derail any success to deliver the SDGs, it is the biggest humanitarian crisis in a generation, and has pushed millions of people around the world into extreme poverty. At this testing time, better leadership and more international assistance is needed, not less’.Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB)
“The UK Aid budget of 0.7% is a law which has been in place since 2015, the intention of the government to cut it to 0.5% pose a legal and ethical challenge. The amount the UK gives has always fluctuated according to UK income due to being a percentage amount of current income. Continuing at 0.7% would still only be what the UK could afford. By deciding to pursue this cut, the UK is dropping behind other countries in their efforts to address global poverty and crisis during one of the most challenging times the world has experienced.” Muhammad Shafiq, Executive Director, Islamic Help
“To reduce UK aid during the Covid-19 crisis, when poverty and inequality is still so prevalent in the world and when millions of people are displaced, will have disastrous consequences. This drop will place vulnerable people in even worse conditions, increasing the number of people who are forced to put their and their family’s lives at risk, seeking refuge elsewhere. This decision by the UK Government will have consequences for these people that we will see in the coming months and it will contribute towards further problems. Going ahead with this decision breaks the promise of the UK in their commitment to stand in solidarity and work to support and develop the global community.” Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmad, Founder & Chairman Al-Khair Foundation
“Cutting our overseas aid commitment, in the middle of a global pandemic, is a morally abhorrent decision and a betrayal of the promise that Britain has made to some of the world’s poorest communities. The decision will have far reaching consequences in the countries we work in, rolling back decades of development and resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. If ‘Global Britain’ is to mean anything, it must at least mean standing with the world’s poor as they deal with the worst impacts of a global crisis”Tufail Hussain, Interim CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
‘Real leadership is tested by its commitments and care for the weak, the voiceless and those in need, Global Britain cannot be realised by ignoring the suffering of vulnerable communities and challenges of fragile states, our leadership role is at stake when we comprise in our commitments to international development’. Zara Mohammed, Secretary General Muslim council of Britain (MCB)
We fear there will be repercussions not only in terms of fatalities and the spread of Covid-19 but also in an increase to the number of displaced people being forced to place their lives at risk by seeking refuge to the UK and other developed countries. This year, the G7 and UN Climate Summits will be hosted by the UK and this intention to reduce budget assigned to tackling a worldwide crisis unfortunately undermines the confidence of world leaders in the UK as a force for good in the global community.
The Covid-19 is a global crisis which requires the work of the international community to help stop the spread and save lives. Only a united global effort will result in a substantial and secure decrease in the virus and its effects on the British community and beyond and to help deliver and protect the Sustainable Development Goals.
For further information please contact the MCF team on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Muslim Charities Forum is the network for British Muslim charities working for social good in the UK and abroad. Through our network, we aim to collectively build a more accountable, transparent and efficient British Muslim charitable sector, in order to improve our ability — both as individual organisations and as a sector — to contribute to a more just and sustainable world.