International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has written a piece in The Sun on Sunday today about the aid budget, including her thoughts on starting a national conversation about how British savers and pension holders can invest in developing countries, and both earn a return and do good in the world. Read it in full:
It's a good time to talk about UK aid, says Penny Mordaunt
As we prepare to leave the EU it is a good time to take stock of what we do on the global stage, and that includes what we do with UK aid.
The British people are generous and care about the plight of others suffering in all corners of the globe.
I know this because whenever there is an emergency appeal in the wake of a disaster the public donates millions to save lives and protect the vulnerable.
I know this because my mail bag is full of people asking me to ensure girls everywhere can get an education, or telling me to combat killer diseases like malaria, polio or AIDS. Having been an aid worker myself, I know the power of aid.
We are a nation that has made a commitment to spending 0.7% of our national income on international development. But despite the public’s pride in much of this work, they are concerned about the amount we spend when compared to their priorities at home.
These are not selfish concerns. They still care about people across the globe, but they want their fellow citizens to have the support and care they need too.
We should also recognise that although UK aid does some amazing work, continuing as we are is not going to deliver all we need to achieve a target to end extreme poverty by 2030. So what can we do about both those concerns?
How can we have the impact we want to help people around the world? First, we must maximise the good we do with what money we have.
Since becoming International Development Secretary, I have set a higher spending bar for the department:
We must demonstrate that the money we are spending could not have been spent better in interest of the people we are trying to help and in the national interest.
And often that means ensuring we get a double win – both a great impact for developing nations but also a direct positive result for the UK too. Secondly, the UK is working to modernise international aid rules. We should make sure we get the most out of the 0.7%.
In future years, as the amount of funding coming back into our own development financial instruments—publicly owned financial instruments—increases, we should be open to using the profits to count towards the 0.7%. Thirdly, public money should be reserved for what only it can fund.
By helping investors create jobs in Africa and Asia we will help lift millions out of poverty.
Such investment funds could also create opportunities for British savers and pensioners to earn a return and do good in the world: another win-win. Finally, we must not solely rely on hardworking people’s taxes to fund good projects.
We should always try to find corporate or philanthropic co-funders for the projects we think will make a difference. Over the years the way we spend aid money has got much smarter. It is time the way we raised aid money got smarter too.