My MP has replied to my letter, see previous post. Whilst not having the answers I particularly want, he has at least covered the points thoroughly and given the current crisis I suppose not unfairly. It’s a very long letter but I’m leaving it all in so you can see the full response from at least part of our Government.
Dear Mr Prosser
Thank you for contacting me about UK spending on foreign aid, otherwise known as Official
Development Assistance (ODA).
This country has been and always will be open and outward-looking, leading in solving the world’s
toughest problems and striving to be a force for good in the world. Whether it is stepping up to
support desperate Syrians and Yemenis in conflict zones, leading the fight against Ebola and Malaria,
or supporting millions of children to gain a decent education.
Nevertheless, we must be honest about where we are. The UK is currently experiencing its worst
economic contraction in 300 years because of the pandemic, with a budget deficit double that
caused by the 2008 financial crisis. At this time of unprecedented crisis, tough choices must be made,
which is why the Chancellor announced a temporary reduction in the UK’s ODA budget from 0.7 per
cent to 0.5 per cent of the UK’s Gross National Income (GNI).
I am encouraged that the UK will be spending more than £10 billion in 2021 on its seven ODA
priorities, as set out by the Foreign Secretary – climate change and biodiversity; global health
security, including Covid-19; girls’ education; responding to humanitarian crises, such as those in
Yemen and Syria; science and technology; resolving conflicts and defending open societies, including
human rights; and promoting trade.
As one of the most generous aid donors in the G7, with a commitment considerably higher than the
OECD average, and coupled with our expertise and convening power, the UK remains a development
superpower. The UK is, for example, the biggest bilateral donor to the Global Partnership for
Education, the largest fund in the world dedicated to improving education in developing countries;
and the World Bank International Development Association, which works to accelerate progress
toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The UK is at the forefront of, and one of the largest donors to, the international response to the
pandemic. UK support extends to assisting the world’s poorest nations receive the COVID-19 vaccines
This is being done through our £548 million commitment to the COVAX Advance Market
Commitment (AMC) – the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines,
which the UK helped to establish last year. Our commitment is amongst the largest donations to the
COVAX facility, and is helping to support the rollout of 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses by early
2022 for up to 92 developing countries.
This will be sufficient to vaccinate up to 30 per cent of recipient country populations, prioritising
healthcare workers and then expanding to cover other priority groups. I am pleased that COVAX
deliveries are now well underway; the first were received in Ghana on 24 February.
As of 19 July, COVAX has so far provided over 129 million doses to 136 participants. The
overwhelming majority of these were the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the development of which
was funded by the UK.
COVAX, alongside its key delivery partner UNICEF, is supporting countries to develop their own
national deployment plans. The UK’s own network of health advisers in relevant AMC countries are
also working to support host governments to receive and deliver vaccines.
As the Prime Minister announced on 11 June at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, the UK will also
donate 100 million surplus vaccine doses to the world within the next year. Five million doses will be
delivered by the end of September, primarily for use in the world’s poorest countries. The further 95
million doses will be donated within the next year, including 25 million more by the end of 2021.
I understand that 80 per cent of these 100 million doses will be donated via COVAX, with the
remainder shared bilaterally with those countries most in need. Moreover, that the cost of donating
the UK’s surpluses will be classified as Official Development Assistance (ODA), and in addition to the
£10 billion already committed in ODA in 2021 to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve
This forms part of a wider commitment agreed at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, in which leaders
pledged to donate one billion vaccines, via COVAX or bilaterally, to developing countries in the next
Regarding NHS pay, the Government’s recommendation for a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff must
be considered in the broader context where all but the lowest paid workers across the public sector
have had their pay frozen for 2021/22. In addition, we should not forget that over one million NHS
staff also continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, including a pay rise
of over 12 per cent for newly qualified nurses, with the average nurse pay now £34,000 per year, and
that junior doctors’ pay has been increased by 8.2 per cent. It’s also worth bearing in mind that
compared to the private sector, NHS staff has a significantly higher level of job security and one of
the best pension schemes in the UK.
The Government has already committed to a pay rise for NHS staff during 2021/22, in spite of the
pay freeze in the wider public sector. This comes at a time when the gap between the wages of those
in the private sector, and those in the public sector, has increased significantly. According to the
Office for National Statistics, in the six months to September 2020, private sector wages decreased
by 1 per cent while public sector employees saw their wages rise by nearly 4 per cent over the same
Ultimately healthcare is a devolved matter, therefore responsibility for NHS Wales and pay rests with
the Welsh Government. The independent NHS Pay Review Body is currently considering the issue of
NHS pay, and that it will make its recommendations on the matter in late Spring. These
recommendations will then be considered by both the UK and Welsh Government, who will
subsequently decide on the extent of any pay increase for those on the Agenda for Change
Scheme. It is right that the UK and Welsh Government’s do not pre-empt these recommendations.
More broadly, I also welcome the investment that the Government has already made in the NHS
workforce, including £513m in professional development and increased recruitment, £30m on staff
mental health support including wellbeing hubs and occupational health support, and the new
bursary programme giving at least £5,000 each year to new nursing, midwifery, and Allied Health
I hope this update and clarification is helpful. Thank you again for taking the time to write.
With best wishes,
Have a good Rest of the Week. Hugs to you all.