to wonder why we give money in overseas aid instead of sorting out the UK first?

(96 Posts)

I'm not trying to be goady, this is a genuine question. I'm sure there are good arguments and good reasons why we give overseas aid (the two most obvious being philanthropy and social responsibility). But it seems short-sighted when we have such a huge deficit and there are so many people in the UK being driven into poverty.

I'm sure I'm being unreasonable, but can someone explain (gently please!) why?

Lueji Sat 16-Mar-13 15:03:26

Essentially because the people we help in those countries are lacking in things that even poor people in the UK, and other western countries, take for granted, such as food, water, shelter, schools, medicine.

Eve Sat 16-Mar-13 15:07:19

I understand why we give aid,

But why is Africa still so poor? Is there that much corruption?

The amount of money the west has channelled in for years must have made some improvements but difficult to see where?

Choosing between eating and heating your home would be a luxury in some parts of the world.

BTW we had an incredibly low street homeless rate when it fell between the 80s (when it was shocking) and the 2000s. We pretty much had it sorted. Not in ten years, you wait.

Children in Africa are dying of easily preventable diseases. We owe them as well. What Europe did in the colonies was horrific in some cases. Read about the Belgian Congo if you want to know why we are morally obliged. Or, you know, the slave trade.

zwischenzug Sat 16-Mar-13 15:16:17

Africa's problems are political, throwing money at them doesn't help at all. Mostly it keeps that self absorbed twat geldof and his celeb chums in the spotlight and publicity.

mumandboys123 Sat 16-Mar-13 15:18:44

oh I don't know, years of raping and pillaging these countries of natural resources, enslaving people, supporting corrupt governments, Empire.....kind of owe 'em something, least we can do, don't you think?

But why is Africa still so poor? Is there that much corruption?

There have been massive changes. In vaccination rates, birth rates, all sorts of things. However war (partially our fault as we played divide and conquer with politics there), disease (HIV/Aids is a plague in Sub-Saharan Africa and corruption (don't kid yourself, it's not just the Africans, read Ben Goldacre's book and marvel at what the VITAMIN INDUSTRY has done in SA) have all taken their toll.

xkittyx Sat 16-Mar-13 15:26:15

I hate it when people say there has been no improvement due to aid. Young people in Lesotho have stopped dying in their droves of AIDS thanks to ARVs courtesy of aid money. It was a total, harrowing, quiet catastrophe until treatment become available.

LadyBeagleEyes Sat 16-Mar-13 15:28:21

It's the third world charities I choose to give to.
I know there's poverty here. I live on benefits half the year but I won't die because of it.
And as a poster upthread has said, we're one world.
In the 21st century babies shouldn't be dying of preventable diseases, lack of sanitation or HIV.
Thinks we have eradicated in the West mostly. I want to see the Third World catch up and us all on an equal playing field.

I did say in my OP that philanthropy and social responsibility were two good reasons to give aid - I didn't say that we shouldn't. I just wondered why it is being given in such huge quantities (or what seems to me to be huge quantities anyway, I appreciate that it may not be in percentage terms) when the UK seems to be being driven into the ground.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Mar-13 15:31:13

"Africa's problems are political, throwing money at them doesn't help at all."

I have heard that argument many times. I have heard that we make the impoverished Africans too reliant on our aid. I don't know whether that is true or not.

Do other first world countries do as much as we do?

BigSpork Sat 16-Mar-13 17:57:25

It's .7%, less than 1, which was an agreed amount from each of the top countries. Some is given regularly in agreements made between our government and other governments in exchange for their governments making their countries work for our benefit in business and wants for resources and labour. The rest is stored up for emergency situations or given to the UN/IMF for their usage in collaborative emergency efforts (for which we make the rules work for us).

If our governments actually wanted to help, we would ensure fairer trade for those countries and ensure our companies actually paid their tax obligations and wages to local workers and kept the same health and safety and environmental rules that they do here rather than paying governments to allow our companies in.

WestieMamma Sat 16-Mar-13 18:52:07

Do other first world countries do as much as we do?

In terms of actual amount the USA donate double the UK amount. The UK is the second biggest donator with France, Germany and Japan not far behind.

In terms of percentage of national income the UK is seventh behind Norway, Luxemborg, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 18:58:59

Aid is given with huge conditions to direct regime change, insist on trade liberalisation etc. It benefits the developed countries if poorer countries can buy our goods. Philanthropy is part of it but political influence is a significant factor

INeedThatForkOff Sat 16-Mar-13 19:36:31

The silence that greeted Lenny Henry's news about DFID's match funding was deafening. I think YABU OP, but plenty shared your confusion I think.

somewherewest Sat 16-Mar-13 19:46:54

Poverty in the UK is nothing like poverty in many parts of the world. We aren't being torn apart by war, or watching our children die of completely preventable diseases on a regular basis or contending with terrifying levels of HIV/AIDs. We have clean drinking water, universal free schooling until age eighteen, a free comprehensive health service and a high level of law and order. All those things make us incredibly privileged compared with many others.

littlemisssarcastic Sat 16-Mar-13 20:22:01

If the govt chose to stop foreign aid from tomorrow, and plough that money directly into the UK's debt, how much of a difference would that actually make?

If we stopped all of the govt foreign aid tomorrow, what would be the effects that everyone in the UK would see, and how long would it take for us to notice those effects?

I agree with foreign aid, because I agree that we are all a part of one world, and every person on the planet should have their basic needs met as a minimum, which in the UK, we do and more besides imo, but I have friends who seem to believe that it would make a massive difference to our debt if we just refused to give any foreign aid until we were not in debt anymore.

littlemiss yes, I guess that's what I was asking, thanks for putting it more clearly.

somewhere yes, poverty is relative. But the fact is that there are increasing numbers of people in the UK who can't afford to eat properly or heat their homes. Shouldn't tackling that be a higher priority for our government?

ShellyBoobs Sat 16-Mar-13 20:54:02

YABU.

I really don't like that so many people like to trot out the 'charity begins at home' adage.

It's purely, simply, irrefutably, just LUCK to be born in a rich country, rather than one where your children might quite easily die from drinking the only water you have access to. sad

I don't think anyone has said otherwise Shelly.

suebfg Sat 16-Mar-13 21:15:37

I don't think you can equate the problems in the UK with those in the third world. At least in the UK, there is a benefits system and free healthcare plus other schemes to help people in need.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 21:19:52

I did put a link up - first one I found - yeah I'm throwing a bone into the philanthropic argument - I'm obviously only going to pick certain bits out of the article, which you can all read - I've highlighted the really contentious bit.

www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/leo-mckinstry/239138Why-do-we-give-all-this-foreign-aid-/Why-do-we-give-all-this-foreign-aid


What makes this largesse all the more offensive is that it is riddled with moral absurdities.

Under this insane policy we are handing over £280million a year to India, a country so rich that it has its own space programme and nuclear weapons as well as three times more billionaires than Britain has. We are also giving £250million a year to Nigeria, which has huge oil revenues, and £128million to Kenya, a place abundant in natural resources.

Another £86million annually goes to the Palestinian territories from the British taxpayer.

That money could easily come from the oil-rich Arab nations that constantly moan about “the plight of Palestinians” but do nothing to help them, precisely because the image of a permanently downtrodden, poverty-stricken Palestine can be cynically used as a tool in anti-Israeli propaganda.

But the even bigger flaw is that international aid simply does not work since it encourages a mentality of learned helplessness, which in turn deepens the cycle of poverty.

In Ethiopia, for instance, around 90 per cent of the government’s budget depends on foreign aid, which is no way to develop free enterprise and trade. In fact, despite all the billions poured into Africa over the past 50 years the standard of living on the continent is now lower than it was at the beginning of the Seventies.

As evenPeter Mandelson has admitted, aid has “demeaned many African governments by turning them into professional beggars”.

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:21:33

Most of the aid given by this government is not really aid but actually loans. Loans with massive rates of interest attached. The poorer countries don't have a hope of paying back all of the money. So actually we're screwing them over, just like we've being doing for centuries.

We actually have a moral obligation to try to improve their lives if you think of our own history, including the part we've played in slavery.

Yes, there is a lot of poverty in this country and for that reason the benefit system is important. However there's a lot of lazy so and so's who choose not to help themselves.

WafflyVersatile Sat 16-Mar-13 21:26:44

''wonder why we give money in overseas aid instead of sorting out the UK first?''

Why do you think overseas aid is 'instead' of sorting out the UK first? Do you think when the government cuts overseas aid it uses it to benefit people in need here? This government have cut benefits, cut services. Are you under the impression they have done this because they want to help frightful foreign people instead of us?

How about:

Why do we let Amazon avoid taxes instead of paying sufficient benefits to poor people in the uk?

Why do we let CEOs give themselves 50% payrises while cutting the pay of their staff?

Why is it you think it's overseas aid spending which prevents the government investing sufficient resources in supporting those in need in the uk?

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:27:39

Wary versatile...excellent point!

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:09

Oooops, autocorrect! Sorry waffyversatile!

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