Yesterday was a big day for international development, as the UK committed to giving 0.7% of our national income on aid to help developing countries.
Committing to support developing countries
British pounds regularly saves lives by helping people living in poverty or affected by natural disasters, wars, and disease through the UK government’s international aid programme. However, up until now, the UK had not legally committed to giving a set amount of aid.
Now that’s all changed. Yesterday, The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill that was introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore has become law.
This means it is now a legal requirement for the UK government to meet the UN’s target of contributing 0.7% of our Gross National Income each year to developing countries.
The first G7 country to meet the UN’s target
First pledged 35 years ago in a 1970 General Assembly Resolution, the 0.7% target has been acknowledged in many international agreements over the years, but had never been adopted by the UK. By passing the bill we have become the first G7 country to reach the target.
What this means for developing countries
The passing of the bill means that rather than wasting time debating about how much the UK should spend on aid, instead, the UK can focus on aid effectiveness, ensuring that money is spent in the best possible way for those who need it.
Now there will be more money available to help rapidly respond when disasters like Ebola happen, more money to pay for essential public services like healthcare and education, and more money to help women and children claim their rights — like the right to food, the right to go to school and the right to be heard.
Helping poorer countries tackle poverty themselves
While this is great news, aid is only part of the answer to tackling poverty. Ultimately poorer countries need to be able to raise enough money by themselves to tackle poverty, which means collecting money through taxation. That is why we’re campaigning for changes to the UK tax laws that would make sure developing countries can raise billions of pounds more in tax from UK companies that operate there.