Provisional statistics published today suggest that the UK has met its target to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid in 2013.
UK aid as % of national income
The only major countries to spend at least 0.7% of their gross national income on aid in 2012 were Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.  Finland achieved 0.7% once, in 1991.  In meeting the target, the UK has joined a select club.

The target has been hit – but will it stay hit?

The target is that UK aid should be at least 0.7% of gross national income in 2013 (where aid is defined using the international definition of aid: Overseas Development Assistance or just ODA).

The new statistics suggest that aid hit 0.72% of gross national income in 2013, which is above the target 0.70% level.

However, estimates of gross national income are expected to be revised upwards in the summer, when the methods used to produce them will be changed.  This upward revision to gross national income will mean that aid as a proportion of gross national income will be lower.  A large revision to gross national income could therefore mean the aid target for 2013 is no longer achieved.

Where has the additional aid money in 2013 been spent?

The new statistics show that aid spending increased by nearly a third between 2012 and 2013.  Aid went up by £2.67bn, from £8.77bn in 2012 to £11.44bn in 2013.

While various departments and bodies are responsible for aid spending, the Department for International Development is responsible for most of it – their aid spending increased by £2.45bn between 2012 and 2013 to £10.04bn.

Of the increase in the Department for International Development’s aid spending:

  • about a quarter went directly to projects in Asia – bilateral spending on Asia was up £0.6bn or 56%,
  • about a tenth to projects in Africa – bilateral spending on Africa was up £0.3bn or 14%,
  • about a quarter to projects that benefitted multiple world regions – bilateral spending on such projects was up £0.7bn or 49%, and
  • about a third of the increase in DFID aid spending went as core contributions to multilateral organisations such as the World Bank – multilateral spending was up £0.9bn or 29%.

Where can I find out more?

The Department for International Development’s Provisional UK Official Development Assistance as a proportion of Gross National Income, 2013 gives trends in overall UK aid spending back to 1970 along with various breakdowns of aid spending in 2012 and 2013, including by government department, aid type (bilateral vs multilateral) and by world region for DFID spending.  It does not include information on spending in each country – this will be published later in the year.

The history and background to the target are discussed in the House of Commons Library note, The 0.7% aid target.

Lorna Booth