New UK legislative agenda skips aid target bill

The flag of United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II's latest speech to the U.K. parliament failed to mention the legislation committing the country to spending 0.7 percent of its gross national income on aid. Photo by: Vaughan Leiberum / CC BY

Aid advocates have raised concerns over what they described as a missed opportunity for the U.K. government to fulfill its promise to make the aid spending target of 0.7 percent of gross national income a legal obligation.

Queen Elizabeth II’s latest speech before the U.K. Parliament, which outlines the legislative agenda for the coming session, glossed over plans to enshrine the aid target into law — an election promise of the current U.K. coalition government. The Department for International Development said the proposed legislation is ready and would be introduced when time allows, the Guardian reports, citing an unnamed DfID official.

But aid groups suggest the opportunity to prioritize the bill may have been lost.

“It’s disappointing that the promise to enshrine 0.7% in law has not yet been honored,” VSO head Marg Mayne said. “This is a missed opportunity to signal to the world that Britain shall not waver in its commitment to support the world’s poorest people.”

ONE, ActionAid and Christian Aid have voiced similar sentiments, which echo recent concerns in Australia, where aid groups have also questioned the country’s commitment to increase its aid spending. Those concerns were confirmed May 8 when Australia announced it is indeed deferring its foreign aid hike commitment.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.