International aid charity considers legal challenge to government’s funding cuts

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is considering legal action against the UK government against its decision to cut government spending on international aid.

The move follows MPs last week voted to reduce the government’s aid contribution from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income (GNI), amounting to £4.5bn.

Cuts have included the loss of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funding to IPPF for its ACCESS grant, to support communities in Lebanon, Mozambique, Nepal and Uganda.

The IPPF says it expects to lose £14.2m in funding over the next three years.

This comes despite an agreement in place with the FCDO to support sexual and reproductive health service delivery until December 2023, said the charity.

The sexual and reproductive healthcare charity believes the government’s decision to cut the proportion of GNI spent on aid and the FCDO’s decision around IPPF funding is “unlawful” as it has been carried out without amending the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015.

"Since IPPF became aware of the Government's plans to slash the U.K.'s aid budget, it has taken every opportunity to demonstrate the unlawfulness of these cuts and the catastrophic impact they will have on millions of women, girls and marginalized people worldwide, and the thousands of lives that will be lost in the process,” said IPPF director general Alvaro Bermejo.

"Sadly, the government has not heeded our warnings, instead choosing to terminate the ACCESS grant.

He added: “IPPF has not taken this decision lightly. This action is about fighting the injustice of the Government's ruling on behalf of the women and girls we serve and honouring the intent of IPPF and its member associations.”

Among charities backing IPPF’s legal challenge is Save the Children UK, NGO Network Bond and Action Aid.

Tory rebels raise concerns

Last week MPs voted for the cut to the international aid budget, despite objections from prominent Conservative MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May and ex-cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt and David Davis.

The government said that the cut in the proportion of GNI to be spent on international aid will be in place until “the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s fiscal forecast confirms that, on a sustainable basis, we are not borrowing for day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling”.

But during debate it emerged that this had not been met once in the last 25 years and not all since the 1970s.

Bond chief executive Stephanie Draper said the cuts are a “political choice, not an economic one, which will do little other than hurt the world’s most marginalised women, men and children and damage Britain’s reputation in the world”.

Meanwhile, One Campaign UK director Romilly Greenhill said the cuts are “akin to cutting the RAF during the Battle of Britain”.

“The real losers of this vote are the 3 million children who will no longer be able to go to school, the half a million children who will die from preventable diseases, and the 3 million women and children who will go hungry,” she added.

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