Minister for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, provided evidence to the International Development Committee on 6th December, admitting that the United Kingdom is no longer viewed in a leadership role within the international development space.
The Alliance hosted the Minister for a roundtable in Glasgow on 5th December, where he spoke similarly of this shift in the global reputation of the UK. He was asked about the UK’s leadership role and he acknowledged that we have lost this position, along with a focus on the SDGs. The Minister mentioned that structural changes at FCDO might help address this. He also gave a strong call to Alliance members to help change public perception. He said that the reason why governments can push development down the agenda, and reduce budgets, is because 50% of the British public think development spending should be redirected to domestic needs. You can find out more about this session here.
In his evidence at the UK Government’s International Development Committee, which you can watch here, the Minister spoke of the the Foreign Office having to make “fierce and draconian” cuts of about 30% to the bilateral overseas “aid” program because of the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees, with some estimates suggesting that up to 50% of the “aid” budget is being spent in Britain.
Due to these years of continued cuts, Mitchell admitted that the UK is no longer seen as a development superpower, saying:
“Let’s not beat around the bush. We are not a development superpower at the moment. That is something that is bemoaned around the world by our many friends and people who look to Britain for leadership on development.”
You can read more about Mitchell’s statement here.