Monday 26 March 2018 / 10:53 AM International Development / Kate Osamor

Labour announces international development plan to reduce inequality – Kate Osamor

Kate Osamor MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State, today announces a fresh plan to restore the moral purpose of international development, promising to use the aid budget for the first time to explicitly reduce inequality.

In light of recent abuses of power and sexual exploitation in the aid sector, Labour will commit to transfer power away from the aid industry and into the hands of people and communities.

The plan, ‘A World For The Many Not The Few’, will also include the UK’s first explicitly feminist international development policy, tripling funding for grassroots women’s groups.

Labour will also undertake to fix the Tories’ mismanagement of an incoherent aid policy across other government departments outside the Department for International Development (DFID). British companies currently sell arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, while the UK government funds almost £200m of aid in the conflict-affected country.

As part of its new plan, Labour will announce 34 specific, time-bound actions it will take in government, including:

  • Helping countries that receive UK aid halve the income gap between the top-earning 10% and the poorest 40% by 2030, and remove it entirely by 2040;

 

  • Hosting a major global summit to accelerate progress on reducing inequality;

 

  • Taking bold action on the global economy rigged in favour of elites, promoting alternative economic models and reforming the rules of taxation, trade, debt, and global institutions so they work for the many, not the few;

 

  • Stepping up support for climate justice, Labour will end DFID’s investment in fossil fuels, begin shifting investment to renewable energy sources, and develop alternative measures of wellbeing, alongside economic growth;

 

  • Following reports in 2017 by the Guardian in Egypt and by BBC Panorama in Syria, Labour will end aid funding to the controversial and opaque Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, replacing it with a transparent, human rights-based Peace Fund as part of a new approach to peace and conflict prevention;

 

  • Following the closure in Uganda and Liberia of Bridge International fee-paying academies and the promotion of failing PFI healthcare schemes internationally, Labour will put an end to the UK’s support for privatisation of public services overseas.

 

In a foreword to Labour’s new paper, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition, writes:

“The Conservatives reduce aid to a matter of charity, rather than one of power and social justice. Worse, they seem ever too ready to abandon our development commitments to the world’s poorest.

“This sets out our vision to build a world for the many, not the few, and to make sure everything we do tackles inequality.

“International development budgets can do more than just reduce the worst symptoms of an unfair world. We don’t have to accept the world that global elites are building for us.

“Let’s help people around the world be more powerful and make their societies fairer – and in the process make our planet more safe, more just and more sustainable.”

Speaking at the launch of the paper in Parliament today, Kate Osamor MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, will say:

“We cannot rely any longer on the myth that trickle-down economics will somehow solve poverty. That bubble has finally burst. Today, over 75% of people in the global South are living in societies in which income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s.

“We know the evidence that equal societies fare better on social indicators, are happier and more harmonious, and enable more sustainable economies. Yet we forge ahead with channelling wealth into the hands of an elite few. It is little surprise that in almost every city in the world extreme wealth and poverty now co-exist side by side.”

On transferring power into the hands of people and communities, Kate Osamor will say:

“The appalling incidences of sexual exploitation that have come to light show the terrible ways in which those made powerful by aid practices can abuse their positions.

“But they are also a sign of an aid system that has been incentivised by successive governments over many years to prioritise technocratic service delivery over the core mission of redistributing power, over challenging its abuse, and over standing on the side of communities. We all have to change that.”