On 12 April 2018, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt not only set out her vision for UK aid, she also promised to redouble DFID’s efforts in the fight against polio, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, TB and AIDS.
In a strong and powerful speech aimed to silence the critics of the UK aid budget and the 0.7% commitment she pledged to provide the best value for money and the most positive impact for every single pound the UK spent but also continue to press for further reforms to the global aid rules which prevent 0.7% being spent effectively and flexibly.
It was clear that the Secretary of State who was appointed to the role in November 2017, has truly listened to both sides. She talked passionately about the UK public’s generosity and values of helping others but also their concern over potential neglect of domestic priorities such as the NHS. She acknowledged that there was a lack of public trust that their money is being spent well.
“That means that 0.7 must not just “be spent well”, but “could not be better spent.”
The Secretary of State went onto set out a development offer that “works for everyone”. The offer is clear, the UK wants to ensure that no one is left behind, that the potential contribution, and the rights, of women, girls, and disabled people are fulfilled.
She recognised the need for a new offer for countries transitioning out of extreme poverty, to keep developing their economies and so that the UK can meet their objectives on climate change too.
Importantly too, she stated that UK aid must address the great challenge of our generation, to identify the answers to mass migration, the displaced and stateless people.
The UK government are positive that their goal is to help developing countries stand on their own feet and build sustainable health and education systems and that this will represent a win for the UK and a win for the developing world. It was also made clear that this would be done in collaboration with other departments across Whitehall.
The speech set out that the UK will focus on five areas to tackle global poverty:
- through humanitarian assistance
- through global health partnerships
- developing economies and human capital
- protecting through security, rule of law, human rights, tackling crime and corruption
- connecting all that our nation has to offer, its talents, its people and communities, its expertise and knowledge, and its resource to those in the developing world through a new Initiative: The Great Partnership.
The Secretary of State was resolute in what would not be funded: Programmes or organisations that didn’t meet standards, governments who can afford to, yet chose not to, invest in their own people. Repeating the message that money would not be spent that could be better spent otherwise.
The Secretary of State enthused about the revitalised Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting next week which will be the largest gathering of heads of government, foreign ministers and Commonwealth organisations the UK has ever hosted.
People will be coming together from across all 53 nations to discuss the issues of most importance. Giving the UK a chance to deploy their development expertise in the emerging group of countries that are increasingly important for finding solutions to the shared global challenges.
“And to win that fight we must come together: Behind smarter aid and global Britain. United in a national mission. In the national interest. Striving for global goals.”
The speech ended with a positive message that the UK should indeed be proud of their continued commitment to aid: proud of what they have enabled, the lives they have saved and future that they are part of building and that this reflects the true spirit of the generous and compassionate British people.