The British Government's overseas aid budget is falling behind those of EU partners such as Spain and France, say aid agencies.
More than 280 charities, including Action Aid and War on Want, have backed a pan-European NGO statement on raising the quality and quantity of European aid.
They want the UK Government to set a timetable for reaching the UN target for aid spending of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income by 2008.
Romilly Greenhill, aid policy analyst for Action Aid, said: "Now, more than ever, the UK needs to get serious about its commitment to tackling global poverty. Next year, the UK will hold both the G8 chair and the Presidency of the European Union. It is time we put our money where our mouth is on international aid."
The charities say that although British aid has risen in recent years and is projected to reach 0.4 per cent of GNI by 2006, it is still far behind other EU donors.
- See editorial p17.