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Queen's Speech: Lack of legislation on aid spending ‘disappointing', says VSO

Reacting to the recent Speech from the queen, which did not include promised legislation enshrining the UK government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid, VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne said:

 “The government's commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid is welcome and will ensure that the UK continues to be a world leader in fighting global poverty.

“However it’s disappointing that the promise to enshrine 0.7% in law has not yet been honoured. 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.

“We’d like to see legislation that takes the politics out of aid budgets and ensures that spending is based on long-term, sustainable objectives and hard evidence of what works best.”

VSO supports legislation on 0.7% for two key reasons:

Legislation will make Aid More Effective

Legislation means that aid spending can be better planned, based on evidence of what is needed and what works. It reduces the extent to which political considerations influence aid spending decisions.

Binding commitments also help to avert the negative consequences of unforeseen cuts in aid budgets. A fluctuating aid budget introduces more uncertainty for recipient countries and prevents them from planning effectively.  Research by the Overseas Development Institute found that poor information on aid flows means that governments in developing countries frequently have to make decision on the basis of "partial, inaccurate and unreliable information"(1).

Legislation committing governments to a particular level of spending on overseas development assistance is important, therefore, for the long term health and sustainability of the economies of developing countries.

Legislation demonstrates our international leadership

As Governments around the world move to cut their aid budgets, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development has pledged not to "balance the books on the back of the world's poorest people". The endorsement of a binding commitment on aid at this time by MPs and members of the House of Lords would send out a powerful and clear message that the UK will hold fast to its commitments and not seek to reverse the progress that has been made in developing countries over the last generation. 

Editor's notes

(1)"Greater Aid Transparency: crucial for aid effectiveness"; Overseas Development Institute; January 2010

About VSO:
VSO is different from most organisations that fight poverty. Instead of sending money or food, we bring people together to share skills and knowledge. In doing so, we create lasting change. VSO volunteers work in whatever fields are necessary to address the forces that keep people in poverty – from education and health through helping people learn the skills they need to make a living. In doing so they invest in local people, so the impact they have endures long after their placement ends. Visit
www.vso.org.uk for more information.

For more information contact: Steve Ballinger, VSO Media manager, +44 (0)20 8780 7632 or outside office hours on, +44 (0)7500 918478

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