Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Tearfund home

Why the UK’s new aid plans will fail people in poverty

Everything you need to know about the government’s new plans for its aid budget, including how you can pray.

Written by Tearfund | 20 May 2022

 A mother and child wait at the health clinic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Image credit: Hazel Thompson/Tearfund

The UK Government has published its International Development Strategy; a key part of this is how it will distribute its foreign aid budget. Here is everything you need to know about the key points from the strategy, and how you can pray for people living in poverty, who will be most affected by these decisions.

Trade for aid

The word ‘trade’ is mentioned in the report three times more than ‘poverty’ is – suggesting that the government is prioritising the UK’s trade interests over working to end extreme poverty.

In the strategy, the UK Government outlines how it will use aid to further UK economic and political interests. This distorts the true purpose of aid, which is to support the most vulnerable and poorest people. Any move to link aid to UK trade agreements will be a huge backwards step as it puts profit above people.

It risks tying communities – who are already vulnerable – into trade agreements and investments that are not in their long-term benefit or will not help them out of poverty. It could also lead to aid not reaching those who are most in need.

‘Supporting people in need should not be conditional on what they can do for us, but based on how we can help them to overcome poverty and the challenges they face.’
Paul Cook, Tearfund's Head of Advocacy

Changes to how aid is delivered

The strategy also outlines a change to how it delivers the majority of its aid in order to better align it with UK priorities. This includes slashing the money it gives to multi-national organisations, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, by almost half.

International organisations, such as the United Nations, have established relationships with governments, local organisations and people – meaning that help can reach those most in need quickly and efficiently.

There is concern that this change could lead to aid being slower to arrive after emergencies, such as typhoons, hurricanes and war.

The strategy lists women and girls, climate change and improving global health as priority areas for the UK Government’s aid spending. Tearfund welcomes the prioritisation of these issues, but changing the way the aid is delivered could divert money away from life-saving programmes in these key areas that are already working well.

Aid budget is not being restored yet

The strategy does not commit to a set date for when the UK will restore its aid budget to 0.7 per cent of its national income. The UK cannot claim to be stepping up its development work if the aid budget remains at 0.5 per cent of national income.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are pushing millions of people further into poverty. Yemen and the Horn of Africa remain on the brink of famine. We cannot turn our backs now on the world’s poorest people – they need our help more than ever.

The UK must not shirk its responsibilities now. UK aid has been crucial in transforming communities and saving lives in some of the poorest and hardest to reach places in the world. It is estimated that UK aid saves a life every two minutes. Restoring the UK’s aid budget will mean we can honour our commitment to the world’s poorest people.

What is Tearfund doing?

‘Supporting people in need should not be conditional on what they can do for us, but based on how we can help them to overcome poverty and the challenges they face,’ shares Paul Cook, who leads Tearfund’s advocacy work.

‘Tearfund has joined with other leading charities to ask the UK Government to rethink its strategy of tying aid so closely with trade and to urgently restore the UK’s aid budget to 0.7 per cent.

‘The UK must not turn its back on the world’s poorest people. We are called by Jesus to love our neighbours and to care for the vulnerable. The UK’s aid budget is a way we can show this love practically to those in need.’

Pray with us

    • Pray that the UK Government will have compassion on people living in poverty around the world and restore spending on foreign aid to previous levels.
    • Ask for the UK Government to look for opportunities to change this strategy, and to be transparent about how the aid budget will be spent and what will be cut.
    • Keep in your prayers people living in poverty who will be impacted most by this strategy. Pray for their protection, and for help to reach them so they are able to overcome poverty and thrive.

Written by

Written by  Tearfund

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this page

Share this page to spread the word and help support those in need.

Get our email updates

Learn about our work and stay in touch with Tearfund. Hear about our news, activities and appeals by email.

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.