Bill Gates among philanthropists pledging £93.5m to offset UK foreign aid cuts

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contribution 'is welcome and desperately needed'

FILE PHOTO: Bill and Melinda Gates attend the Presidential Medals of Freedom ceremonies  in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2016.    REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is among a consortium of philanthropists who will give £93.5 million ($129.6m) in emergency funding to partly cover UK foreign aid cuts.

The group, which includes the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, the Elma Foundation and Open Society Foundations, said the money would support projects that provide sexual health services and help prevent the spread of disease.

“These life-saving treatments are cost-effective investments. If they go unfunded this year, British taxpayer generosity will be wasted as clinics are closed and essential drugs expire and are thrown away,” said Kate Hampton, chief executive of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

Britain's Conservative government slashed its aid commitment this year from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income. Among the cuts was the 85 per cent reduction in UK aid to the UN’s family planning programme.

It is estimated the UK will spend £10 billion in foreign aid in 2021, compared to £14.5bn in 2020 and £15.2bn in 2019.

“This funding is welcome and desperately needed, but we continue to pray for the restoration of our promise to those living in extreme poverty: to love them as our neighbour through our commitment to the 0.7 per cent aid target,” said Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Preet Kaur Gill, international development spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said it was a “welcome move to plug some of the gaps left by" the government's "callous cuts to life-saving aid programmes”.

The UK is the current president of the G7 and will host the UN’s climate summit Cop26 in Glasgow in November.

Ms Gill said that, “in a year when UK leadership on the world stage is being tested it’s a shameful and embarrassing moment” for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She urged the government to “reverse the cuts and save lives”.

Updated: July 12, 2021, 11:20 AM