Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the foreign aid budget is to be reduced to 0.5% of GDP, down from 0.7%, which amounts to a cut of £4 billion next year, received a mixed reception. Conservatives expressed their disappointment that this broke a manifesto pledge. They were joined by others who are unhappy that the UK appears to be withdrawing from its commitment to support some of the world’s poorest people.
In the circumstances, with government borrowing approaching £400 billion, the Chancellor’s decision is likely to be a precursor of other difficult decisions where spending will be reined in and taxes will be increased. It comes at the end of a year that has been relentlessly tough for the charity sector. The pandemic has brought double trouble: it has made fundraising much more difficult and it has led to a great increase in demand for services.
Research by The Big Give, a match fundraising platform of which I am a trustee, shows that more than two thirds of the 1000+ charities surveyed have seen their income decrease in 2020. The average size of the decline is 43%. A massive fall. At the same time there has been a relentless rise in demand for these charities’ services; homelessness, food poverty, mental illness and domestic violence have all increased. It is estimated that there is now a £10 billion funding gap between demand and supply.
This gap is greater than the cut in the foreign aid budget and will only be filled by the generosity of millions of individual charity donors. The generosity of the British public is renowned and now more than ever it is needed. Not everyone at the end of this difficult year is in a position to give, but many can. We do have a chance to do something about this.
This year, the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge is seeking to raise millions of pounds for over 750 participating charities. Thanks to the support of our generous Champions, amongst them The Childhood Trust, the Julia and Hans Rausing Trust and the Reed Foundation, we will be able to double donations until our match funding pot of £8 million is exhausted. One donation will have twice the impact.
Many of the charities participating this year are seeking to fund projects overseas. They include Care International, Hamlin Fistula, Bees for Development and Excellent Development amongst many others. If you are unhappy about the reduction in the government’s aid budget, now would be a good time to step forward. Actions will speak louder than words when it comes to supporting the world’s poorest people.
The Challenge begins at noon on the 1st December, which is Giving Tuesday, and will last for one week. I am hoping that the country will get behind it and support these excellent organisations in their continuing good work. They need our help. Let’s support them in their hour of need.
Every donation will be doubled. One donation, twice the impact: www.thebiggive.org.uk.
25th November 2020