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Labour’s Record

Between 1997 and 2010 Labour:

  • helped lift 3 million people out of poverty each year.
  • helped to get some 40 million more children into school.
  • Polio is on the verge of being eradicated and 3 million people are now able to access life-preserving drugs for HIV and AIDS.
  • improved water or sanitation services for over 1.5 million people.

The Labour government was recognised as a world leader on tackling global poverty. Labour believes that it is wrong that somebody’s chances in life depend on where they are born. That is why, in government, we made it a priority, at home and abroad, to work for the eradication of poverty. Our values, and the nature of the common global challenges we face, meant that it was even more important we keep our commitments to the poorest in a time of serious economic difficulties.

In 1997, when Labour set up a dedicated Department for International Development, and over the years in power the UK development budget tripled. Our support was targeted at the poorest – and worked to promote good governance, encourage growth and economic development, and to enable countries to deliver basic public services, such as health, education and water. We responded to disasters, and worked to tackle conflicts which ravaged lives and stood in the way of development. Labour took steps to tackle climate change and its impacts including help for the most vulnerable communities. International institutions equipped to deal with new global challenges are essential, which is why we led the way in arguing for vital reforms to institutions like the World Bank and United Nations (UN).

Key achievements

  • We tripled Britain’s aid budget and committed to reaching the UN agreed target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income to be spent on development assistance by 2013. Our investment and international leadership have contributed to significant results on the ground lifting 3 million people permanently out of poverty each year.
  • At Gleneagles in 2005 we led an international campaign to cancel 100 per cent of multilateral debts for the poorest countries and secured agreement on an extra billion of aid for all developing countries. In September 2008 the UK played a key role in the UN summit in New York on the Millennium Development Goals which saw significant new commitments made in the priority areas of malaria, food, education and health.
  • We untied aid so poor countries can use the money to buy goods and services from the most cost-effective source and led efforts to secure support for an International Aid Transparency initiative to ensure citizens can hold their governments and donors to account and increase the effectiveness of aid.
  • Labour announced the UK’s biggest ever investment in fighting HIV and AIDS, making the UK the world’s second largest donor to the global fight against these diseases.
  • We launched a Governance and Transparency Fund which provided resources to local civil society groups to improve governance and increase accountability in poor countries – for example, by helping citizens, media and parliaments hold governments to account.
  • We committed significant support to an Environmental Transformation Fund which will support developing countries to tackle climate change.
  • Labour delivers when crisis hits – the UK is now the world’s second largest bilateral humanitarian donor with our action helping people from Sudan to Sri Lanka.

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