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Friend of Tortoise Exclusive

Foreign aid: Is 0.7 per cent virtue signalling or value for money?

Foreign aid: Is 0.7 per cent virtue signalling or value for money?

This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.

The UK first hit the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on foreign aid in 2013. The UK Government cut this to 0.5 per cent in 2021 as a “temporary measure” to recover from the pandemic — about £4bn less. Sunak has stated that the full aid budget will return in 2024-25, but campaigning groups claim this isn’t fast enough.

This has all happened against the backdrop of the FCO and DFID merger into the FCDO — a move argued by many to muddy humanitarian action with foreign interests such as the arms trade.

Those against the cut argue that reducing annual aid expenditure diminishes the Government’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as gender equality and poverty alleviation.

But where does the UK’s foreign aid budget actually go? Does anyone really know? Are we giving money to the right places, and does it make any difference? Does aid genuinely help, or is it virtue signalling?

editor and invited experts

Lara Spirit

Romilly Greenhill
UK Director, ONE Campaign

Saul Parker
Founder, The Good Side