Yesterday was Budget day, the moment our ‘Protect Point Seven’ campaign had been building towards for the past few weeks. It was the day the Chancellor outlined his plans for the British economy and whether he would honour the UK’s international commitments to support the world’s poorest people by spending 0.7% of the UK’s Gross National Income on aid by 2013. We are absolutely delighted that despite the difficult media climate on aid over the past couple of months, the budget confirmed that the Government would honour the 0.7% target and with it, continue the UK’s efforts to provide aid to the 1.4billion people still living in extreme poverty.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve asked you, our supporters and campaigners, to help ensure that ahead of yesterday’s budget, politicians knew just how much support their was for international aid across the country. Hundreds of you wrote to your MPs and many tweeted at them to tell them how important aid is to you and how much support it has in your communities. Some of our Global Poverty Ambassadors started a facebook page that reached over 5,000 people and inspired over 350 people to send in pictures of them thanking all three major political parties for their commitment to 0.7. We even went to parliament to give a personal thank you to the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Ivan Lewis MP and Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell MP.
The incredible effort, amazing passion and inspiring activism our supporters have shown in telling decision makers that there is real public support for lifesaving aid for people in extreme poverty made a real difference to political opinions ahead of the budget. As Andrew Mitchell MP, the Secretary of State for International Development told us in our meeting, “This campaign is a powerful reminder that people across Britain understand that aid can make a real difference”.
The 0.7% target has cross party support and by including it in the budget, the Chancellor has now paved the way for the government to bring forth legislation to enshrine the 0.7% target in law, a policy agreed in the Coalition Agreement. It will also allow the UK to demonstrate important international leadership on global aid commitments and to press other countries to fulfil their own pledges. As Elisha London our UK Country Director said yesterday after the budget:
“We warmly welcome that the government has honoured their commitment to protect the target of spending 0.7% of UK GNI on International Development, the figure needed to fulfil our commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.
By keeping our country's promise to provide support to the world’s poorest people, the UK will continue to save lives and support communities across the world to sustainably move out of extreme poverty.
At this time of economic difficulty we thank the Chancellor for keeping our promise to those living in the most extreme kind of poverty, wherever they live."
With the aid budget confirmed DFID can now continue its commitments to vital lifesaving programmes which will deliver real results for people across the world living in extreme poverty. Funding can be provided for programmes such as the global polio eradication initiative, which with only four countries in the world left battling with this disease, has a real opportunity to eradicate Polio in our lifetime. It is these types of life changing initiatives that our aid will fund, something we can all celebrate.