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Reaching the 0.7% target is Labour’s legacy – but Osbornomics mean the aid budget is nearly £5.5 billion less than it should have been

20 March 2013
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LCID responds to Budget 2013

Labour’s legacy is realised today as Britain becomes the first G8 nation to meet the historic commitment to the 0.7% aid target.

The path to today started on 1st May 1997. It was a Labour government that set up DFID as an independent department, that secured the deal on debt relief, that trebled aid and set up the timetable to reach the 0.7% target by 2013.

Today all Labour Party members should be immensely proud of that record. Millions more children are in school, mothers give birth safely and people living with HIV have access to life-saving medicines because of decisions made by the Labour Government we got elected. Budget after budget, international summit after international summit, our Labour Government fought on the side of the poor and the marginalised and transformed their lives for the better – and established Britain as a leading force for social justice in the world.

But the relief that the 0.7% target has been met should not distract us from a painful truth –the last three years of Osbornomics mean the UK aid budget is nearly £5.5 billion less than it should have been.

Whilst the Conservatives’ misguided austerity drive is hurting hard working families up and down the country, this government had at least claimed that they would not be balancing the books on the back of the world’s poorest people.

But since they came to power in 2010, their choices in government mean the aid budget is nearly £5.5 billion less than it should have been:

  • £2.4 billion LESS…because they choose to freeze the aid budget in 2011 & 2012, instead of increasing to 0.7 with an even trajectory as Labour would have done
  • £1.17 billion LESS…from Autumn Statement 2011 downgrade (2011-2014) – because their mismanagement has hurt growth and reduced our Gross National Income from what was predicted in the 2010 CSR
  • £680 million LESS…from Autumn Statement 2012 downgrade (2012-2014)
  • £300 million LESS…from today’s GNI downgrade – because they still don’t have a Plan B
  • £500 million LESS…because  DFID under-spent in 2012-2013*

That money matters. It is money that could have been spent transforming and saving lives – on anti-malarial bed-nets, on teachers and nurses, on tackling hunger.

The Conservative’s austerity economics is not working, and it’s hurting even those they said they’d protect.

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*UPDATE – Our calculations now include the amount DFID underspent in 2012-2013 (p.70 of the 2013 Budget) – money that should have been spent on changing lives that instead went back into the treasurer

UPDATE – Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Ivan Lewis MP has put out the following statement:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s confirmation that the Government will this year, 2013, honour Labour’s commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on Overseas Development Assistance. We now hope that the Government will put right its broken promise to enshrine this commitment in law. This historic milestone has only been possible because of Labour’s legacy of global leadership and commitment to eradicating global poverty. In Government Labour created the Department for International Development at Cabinet level, tripled the aid budget, wrote off debt and committed to the 0.7 target.

“However, it is a source of regret that the Tory-led Government’s failed economic plan has led to successive downgrading of growth forecasts which has cost the aid budget over £2 billion.”

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