Halting 'non-essential' aid spending will harm the world's poorest

In response to media reports that the UK treasury has ordered departments to suspend ‘non-essential’ aid spending over concerns that the cost of relief work in Ukraine will exceed the reduced UK aid budget, Michael McKean, Mercy Corps Europe’s Executive Director, said:

“We are once again looking at uncertainty and a possible closure of programmes providing critical support to communities grappling with poverty, conflict, climate change and a global food catastrophe. 

“We have not had formal notification of what this means for our existing programmes, nor what will be classified as ‘non-essential’ - but we are talking about programmes that are helping support communities with food and jobs, helping build peace in some of the most unstable places. Stopping these programmes will not only mean abandoning communities, but will deal another blow to the UK’s reputation as a global leader in aid and development. 

“Compassion and support for Ukraine is welcome, but should never come at the cost of other global crises. This sadly is another example of the damage caused by the UK Government’s decision to cut the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national spending - at a time when global need is spiraling. The solution is obvious, to return, as agreed, to 0.7%. Otherwise the Government risks undermining its own priorities, and putting millions of lives at risk."