0.7% target re-affirmed in agreement between Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties

A document has just been released outlining the agreement reached between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties in order to form a coalition government.

We are pleased to see that the commitment to reach 0.7% of GDP to aid is reaffirmed, but there is no mention within the document of legislation to enshrine this commitment in law. Both parties committed in their election manifestos (see Conservative manifesto and Liberal Democrat manifesto) to legislate on this issue during the next Parliament, so we hope to see this legislation feature in the upcoming Queen’s Speech, which will outline the legislative agenda for the new session of Parliament.

It may be that we need to apply pressure to the new government on this issue – we will keep you updated with any actions you can take as soon as we become aware of them.

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4 responses to “0.7% target re-affirmed in agreement between Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties

  1. Why a flat 0.7% as aid, regardless of where it goes?
    I see no reason, for example, for the UK to continue paying to India the amount that Inida spends on its space programme, yet doing that counts towards your target.

  2. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for your comment and for your comment on an earlier post. We agree with you that emerging economies such as India should do more to support their population and believe that civil society groups in these countries should be supported to hold their governments to account.

    We also believe that it is important to act now to reduce extreme poverty. Three in every four people in India live below the poverty line and there are more poor people in India than the whole of Africa.

    We share your concern that only resources that go towards fighting poverty are counted towards the 0.7% target. We will need to ensure that any new legislation does not allow other forms of foreign assistance to be included.

  3. My concern is that UK aid just gives an excuse for the government of the recipient country to spend less locally, so the UK ends up not aiding the poor but subsidising some other government project. Would India be spending around £1 billion on its space programme if the UK weren’t giving it around £1 billion in aid?
    Perhaps for such countries the UK aid should be conditional on a matched amount of diverted expenditure from the government of the recipient country?

  4. Hi Nick, whether countries would spend more on health themselves if aid were not given is certainly a good question and a tough one to answer. We suspect that it varies from country to country.

    In the case of India, we suspect that UK aid is not ‘displacing’ money that the government would spend on the poor otherwise, but is helping to fill a gap that would just be bigger without it. The Indian government certainly needs to become more pro-poor – for example in 2006 it spent just $7 per capita on health, less than hundreds of poorer countries. If the Indian government were to allocate more of its resources to the poorest then DFID would potentially be able to re-allocate resources to other countries, but to withdraw aid from India currently would be to abandon the poor in India.

    However, clearly just giving aid will not solve poverty in India, and policies to influence the Indian government’s focus on reducing poverty are crucial too. Your suggestion of requiring matched funding is interesting, but would need to be investigated further, as sometimes ‘tying’ aid to conditions in this way has unintended negative consequences. Do you know if any studies have been done on the feasibility of this option?

    We would suggest that an important factor in making British aid effective for poverty reduction in countries like India where the government is clearly not doing enough is to fund civil society movements that can help the country’s citizens hold their own government to account.

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