UK government outlines development assistance priorities to Parliament
At the parliamentary committee on international development, the UK secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, highlighted his government’s four broad priorities for development assistance:
- Tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity;
- Driving economic development;
- Supporting girls' education; and
- Ensuring an end to preventable deaths of mothers, babies, and children by 2030.
When pressed by the committee on what would be deprioritized, Sharma stated that no decisions had been made ahead of the government spending review and that with a growing development assistance budget, there may not be any cuts to other spending item areas needed. Sharma said ensuring that UK development assistance retains its primary objective of alleviating poverty and delivering value for money for British taxpayers is a priority.
Sharma gave reassurances to the committee that the government would maintain its commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on official development assistance. He also gave his personal support for maintaining an independent department for international development, noting that he had seen the high-standing and extensive influence of the department around the world.
On Brexit, Sharma noted that his department was already planning how the UK could deploy any additional funding as a result of a no-deal exit including expanding the UK's bilateral portfolio. Sharma was keen to stress that the government aims to maintain a constructive relationship with European partners.