Labour would not immediately restore the 0.7% aid target if it wins the next election, but aim to do so “as soon as the fiscal situation allows”, Lisa Nandy has said.
The shadow international development secretary also suggested reinstating an independent Department for International Development would not be a priority for the party.
Rishi Sunak temporarily slashed the target to spend 0.7% of national income on official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% from 2021 when he was chancellor, with the lower goal still in place due to ongoing economic pressures.
But, she said: “we won’t be able to restore the commitment to 0.7 on day one of a Labour government.”
“I want to be really clear that the next Labour government is going to inherit probably the worst economic situation since the Second World War.
“Everything that we’re able to do in government will depend on the success of Rachel Reeves and the team in getting our economy growing so that we can invest in our priorities here at home and overseas.”
Ms Nandy pledged to set out ahead of the general election, expected next year, “a pathway back” to 0.7% by specifying which conditions must be met to restore the goal.
Speaking from the conference main stage earlier, she said Labour is committed to the previous target “as soon as the fiscal situation allows”, adding: “But we won’t stop there.
“We will share British expertise in cutting-edge data technology and use our influence to unlock new, global private financing.”
The shadow frontbencher also raised concerns about how billions of pounds of overseas aid funding has been “increasingly raided” by other Government departments, vowing that Labour would protect the ODA budget.
Ms Nandy was asked whether Labour would commit to restoring the Department for International Development as a standalone ministry.
The Conservative Government’s 2020 decision to fold the department into the Foreign Office has been criticised for leaving the merged entity distracted and with a dearth of development expertise.
The senior Labour figure said: “There is genuinely a question about whether another reorganisation is helpful.”
Ms Nandy was demoted from shadow levelling up secretary to covering the international development brief in Sir Keir Starmer’s shake-up of his top team last month.
But she told the audience at the fringe event: “In many ways, this is my absolute dream job. I’ve gone from levelling up the country to levelling up the world.”