Britain’s foreign aid approach must ‘adapt to new realities’, David Cameron to say

Lord Cameron
Lord Cameron: ‘We need to work together as partners’ - James Manning/PA

Britain’s foreign aid approach must “adapt to new realities”, Lord Cameron will say on Monday as he endorses a plan underpinned by the shelving of his flagship 0.7 per cent pledge.

In a foreword to the Government’s new international development strategy, the former prime minister will say the approach must benefit British people as well as the world.

The contribution amounts to one of his first substantial policy declarations since his surprise return to the Government when he was appointed Foreign Secretary last Monday.

He took his seat in the House of Lords after his official introduction ceremony on Monday, and will be known as Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton.

As part of his modernisation project when Conservative Party leader, Lord Cameron made spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid a central promise that was written into law.

But Rishi Sunak, when Chancellor, shelved the target, instead vowing to spend 0.5 per cent on foreign aid and return to 0.7 per cent only when government debt started falling.

He has also been accused of hollowing out the overseas aid budget by using some of the money to pay for hotel bills for housing Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

The white paper being unveiled on Monday was put together by Andrew Mitchell, a Foreign Office minister who has championed development aid spending. It contains endorsements from leading figures in the aid debate including Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, and Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In line with the strategy’s release, the Government has announced up to £100 million for food security crises and their impacts on the world’s hunger and malnutrition hotspots.

The paper is underpinned by the decision to spend 0.5 per cent of GDP on foreign aid rather than 0.7 per cent, though the strategy focuses on approach rather than budget issues.

In Lord Cameron’s foreword, seen by The Telegraph, he praises the “sustainable development goals” set at a United Nations summit in 2015, when he was prime minister.

He says: “This destination remains unchanged. But our approach needs to adapt to new realities. The white paper captures how we are doing that. Today’s answer cannot be about rich countries ‘doing development’ to others.

“We need to work together as partners, shaping narratives which developing countries own and deliver. Development cannot be a closed shop, where we try to help other countries and communities without heeding their vision for the future.

“Development has the capacity to save and improve lives. It is part of a moral mission. And in a world of illegal migration, climate change, instability and conflict, it is essential for our own security and prosperity as well.

“We are global. We are interconnected. We need to do development smartly, for the benefit of the British people and the world.”

‘A healthier, more secure and prosperous world’

The white paper’s release has been timed to coincide with the Global Food Security Summit, being held in London.

Mr Mitchell, an international development minister, said: “Many children go to bed hungry and malnourished. At this summit, the UK and its partners will be united in our determination to change that. Cutting-edge science and innovative partnerships will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all.”

Bond, the UK network for organisations working in the sector, criticised the lack of the 0.7 per cent target in the plans, saying “The notable ambitions of the white paper require adequate resourcing and will not be realised without rapidly returning the UK aid budget to the legally mandated level of 0.7 per cent of national income.”