Why it’s worth doing
Thank you for writing to your MP to request the restoration of the UK Goverment's aid budget from 0.5% to 0.7% of gross national income (GNI). There are reasons for hope that this can be achieved; the outrage and disappointment felt by many people as the impact of this cut becomes clear is just one!
Advantage Africa is one of many charities whose grants have been withdrawn alongside cuts to mulilateral, bilateral and FCDO’s own programmes. As a result, it's estimated that one million girls may not go to school, 7 million women will miss family planning services, 4 million people will not access safe water and 100,000 deaths will result from the lack of vaccinations.
A growing number of Conservative MPs are expressing concern about the cut, which means the Government are worried they may lose a vote on it should it be needed. It appears that all MPs from other parties oppose the cut, and it's distressing that a political issue has apparently been made out of something on which there was previously cross-party agreement.
Writing your letter
You can find out your MP's contact details here. It’s important that you make your letter or email ‘your own’ so it gets read and responded to - which is why we’re not providing a template. MPs receive lots of correspondence, so it's advisable to keep it succinct and easy for them to quickly read and digest. We also suggest that you keep the tone friendly and polite, to build up a constructive conversation, while ensuring your strength of feeling on the issue shines through.
We suggest you use some of the following talking points:
- Mention that you’re a supporter of Advantage Africa and how you feel about the withdrawal of our grant.
- The deaths and suffering the aid cut will cause globally as budgets are slashed. For example water and sanitation funding has been reduced by 80%, reproductive health 85% and girls' education by 25%.
- COVID-19 is the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation. This cut couldn’t come at a worse time for people living in poverty and suffering disproportionately in the pandemic.
- The UK was one of the first countries to reach the UN’s 0.7% aid target in 2013. Abandoning it sends a very poor signal to other nations. We should be urging others to reach the target, not move away from it.
- The 0.7% target was enshrined in UK law in 2015 and all the main political parties committed to it in their election manifestos. Reducing spending to 0.5% of GNI breaks a promise to the electorate, and to the world’s poorest people.
- Why you’re proud of UK aid, eg it has helped millions of girls around the world to go to school and children be vaccinated against life-threatening diseases.
- Because it’s based on a percentage of GNI, the aid budget already responds to economic fluctuations. As the economy shrunk last year, the Government already recouped nearly £3bn. The additional cut to 0.5% of GNI appears to be balancing the books on the backs of the world’s poorest people.
- The loss of ‘soft power’ and influence on the world stage when the Government is regularly promoting ‘Global Britain’ and the UK ‘as a force for good’ in the world.
- The Government says it needs to save money because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy but the amount saved by the cut (around £4bn) is a small proportion (around 1%) of the debt arising from COVID-19 (about £400bn) - and the impact on the world’s poorest people is massive. It's also comparable with recent increases in military spending.
- The Government’s refusal to state a timetable for restoring the aid budget to 0.7% of GNI beyond a vague statement of ‘when the fiscal situation allows’.
Make a clear request
In the light of the points you make above, we suggest you ask your MP to do the following:
- Urge the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary to restore the 0.7% of GNI aid target and protect it in future.
- Vote against any legislation that arises to reduce or revoke the 0.7% aid target.
- Use their voice to speak out about these cuts in Parliament and among their colleagues.
- If you receive a reply from MP, thank them, especially if they commited to your requested actions. You can later hold them accountable.
- If they don’t respond positively, politely express your disappointment and reiterate your ask - but don’t annoy them or use up good will. You may want to converse with them further on the matter when there is a vote, or contact them about other issues in future.
- If you don’t hear back after three weeks, send a follow-up email to check they’ve received it. You can also call their constituency office.
- Consider asking your friends and family to write to their MPs by sharing the link to this web page on email or social media.
Thank you for your time and effort towards restoring the UK aid budget to 0.7% of GNI. Please remember to tell us how you get on!