"A cynical, ruthless and morally reprehensible con job"

  hssutton 09:19 02 Jan 2013

Would you agree with this statement regarding Foreign Aid? Foreign Aid. I've long held the belief that this money should be spent on such as our hospitals/education rather than being given to other countries. I do however appreciate others on this forum think otherwise.

  Forum Editor 10:12 02 Jan 2013

There's a mistaken belief that giving foreign aid is an act of pure altruism - that one country gives money to another because it simply wants to help those who are less fortunate.

The real reason, of course, is less idealistic - we give foreign aid for humanitarian reasons, certainly, but there must be more to it than that - we want developing countries to trade with us, and we want their growing industries to use our banking and financial services industries.

The arguments about the extent to which our aid payments ultimately benefit our exporters have raged for decades, and opinions tend to be polarised - you either think it's a good policy or you don't. Arguing that if money wasn't spent on foreign aid it would all go towards hospitals and the education system is hardly valid.

In 2011 we spent 0.56% of our Gross National Income on foreign aid - a figure that equates to about £137 per head of population. Many people think that is far too much during a period of austerity, and others think it is money well spent. It's very much a question of your personal view - either you believe in the policy or you don't, but if you don't, you shouldn't believe that the money would automatically go to schools and hospitals, or that it would be there at all.

If we hadn't spent on aid in the past our exporters might not be getting the orders, and that would mean less tax income for the government, fewer jobs for British workers, and possibly higher benefit payments.... or so the counter argument goes.

  caccy 11:14 02 Jan 2013

Is foreign aid given in cash or is it mainly "you have X billion pounds aid to spend provided it is spent with U.K. companies". This is done when some countries give military aid to others. I don't know the answer to this but I'm sure some forum nember does.

  Woolwell 12:28 02 Jan 2013

The report states "there is no evidence foreign aid helps the world's poor". This is not true. It depends on who provides the aid, the control of it, and where and on what it is spent. There is undoubtedly corruption involved with some foreign aid and just giving large sums to governments doesn't greatly help. There is a problem with people becoming aid dependent.

I support a charity, with very low overheads, that works with the poorest in the world. They only provide aid to local partnerships that will enable the people to become self sufficient in food, water, etc and after a very few years they no longer require aid. This is foreign aid in the form of money and practical assistance which does make a very real difference to the world's poor.

  Forum Editor 13:20 02 Jan 2013

"there is no evidence foreign aid helps the world's poor"

There is, but it's not easy to quantify. There's a fine line between giving money to people to help them lift themselves from poverty without making them so dependent on the aid they lose the incentive to self-start.

That's where aid agencies can be really helpful - they have people on the ground who can make judgments about where money is needed most, and for how long. Corruption is an ever-present reality, and always has been.

  wee eddie 18:00 02 Jan 2013

We - find it difficult to live with corruption. Actually it is rife in our society.

They - will find it difficult to live without Corruption. Mainly because of a system that has an almost impotent Tax Gathering Machine, with many 3rd World Public Servants get (or frequently, don't get) Salaries that are impossible to live on. They rely on the system of backhanders that exists to live.

Of course Bribery and Corruption, at the Top, sticks in the craw, but it was a fact of life throughout Europeand the UK, within the last 100 years.

So, before we criticise others. We had better consider our own Track Record!

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