Aid agencies and campaigning groups welcomed the international aid increase announced as part of the government's Comprehensive Spending Review. The government announced aid spending will rise to 0.47% GNI by 2007/8 and they have set a timetable, on the current rate of growth, to reach 0.7% by 2013.
Mike Aaronson, Director of Save the Children, said:
"This is a significant and welcome announcement. The increased aid in the next three years will deliver real help to the world's poorest people. And the timetable set by the Chancellor for reaching the 0.7% target means the UK can now take a full lead in the fight against global poverty."
Richard Bennett, General Secretary of BOND, the UK network of development NGOs coordinating the campaign pressing for a timetable to 0.7%, said:
"This is good news. 2005 will see Britain hold the chair of the G8 and the Presidency of the EU. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will be able to rally the support of other rich countries in the next year. They must now press their G8 and EU partners to follow their lead."
The UK joins ten European countries which have already reached, or set a date to reach, the target of allocating 0.7% of gross national income to international aid. Unless rich countries honour their promise to increase aid then UN goals to end suffering, hunger and disease will simply not be met.
A wide-ranging coalition of charities, religious groups and trade unions have been running a hard-hitting campaign demanding that the Government increase aid and honour its promise on the 0.7% target. Over 100,000 people have sent emails and postcards to the HM Treasury. 232 MPs also signed an Early Day Motion and many religious, private sector and union leaders personally lobbied the Chancellor and Prime Minister.