Chancellor Gordon Brown under pressure to keep aid pledge

 Gordon Brown faces intense pressure over British aid pledges today as leading UK development agencies - including ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF UK, War on Want and the development network BOND warn that all eight of the Millennium Development Goals aimed at halving world poverty by 2015 risk being missed. They are calling on the chancellor to spend 0.7 per cent of income on aid - a promise, made in 1970, which Britain has failed to keep. Without it, and all rich countries doing the same, the charities say international goals to halve world poverty and improve education and health by 2015 will fail. Already, progress towards meeting them is pitiful. The first goal - to ensure equal access for girls to education by 2005 - will be missed. The health target for a two-thirds reduction in child deaths will be 150 years too late for millions of children who will continue to die from preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Mike Aaronson, Director General of Save the Children and Chair of the British Overseas Aid Group (BOAG) said: "Across the world 600 million children live in poverty, yet the UK spends just 0.3 pence in every pound it earns on overseas aid. This is simply not good enough. We need urgent action from the UK to allocate 0.7 per cent of its wealth to overseas aid by 2008. Failure to increase this figure now is a failure for the next generation of children and condemns them to a life of poverty." Richard Bennett, General Secretary of BOND, the organisation co-ordinating the campaign, added: "Brown and Blair want to be agents for change in international development. Well it's time our government honoured the commitment to 0.7%. This is one target we simply cannot afford to miss. Nobody can doubt its political and moral sense. A failure to do so in this year's spending review would be frankly unacceptable." The charities - 290 in total with more than three million supporters - will call on Mr Brown to announce a timetable to reach 0.7 by 2008 when they present him with a 'Licence to Kill Poverty'. They expect thousands of supporters to deluge Mr Brown with campaign postcards on the timetable. The campaign follows Tony Blair's launch of the Commission on Africa and the Chancellor's call for rich countries to back his proposal for an international finance facility to double aid. Agencies believe that reaching 0.7 per cent would be a strong international signal of the government's commitment to increase aid and would therefore give the IFF a much greater chance of success.

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