UK Overseas Aid



The UK spends £12 billion a year on overseas development aid. Why? Is there a better way to help people in poor countries.

VIDEO SCRIPT: The UK government spends £12 billion a year on overseas aid. It’s time to put Britain first and focus on problems at home.

Hello, I’m Leon Hawthorne. We’re talking about overseas aid… taxpayers’ money spent by the government allegedly to alleviate poverty in developing countries.

It’s now written into UK law that the government must spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. It’s part of the United Nations’ Millennium Project to reduce poverty.

Only five other European countries have reached this 0.7% target: Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands.

When David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, he decided to ring fence and increase overseas aid spending at the same time he was imposing austerity cuts on welfare programs.

I doubt if Mr Cameron lay awake at night caring about sick children in the Third World. Basically, he was trying to detoxify the Conservative Party brand…make it seem caring… at a time when so many people thought it was the nasty party.

Look. Whenever there’s a crisis in the world… a famine… a war… an earthquake, a celebrity pops up on TV asking us to donate money to a charity like Oxfam, Save the Children or the Red Cross. And countless numbers of us respond to scenes of devastation. We’re all human and if you or I - who live in a rich country - can give a few pounds to ameliorate those conditions, it would take a monster to refuse.

Giving to such causes shows the best of us. But what’s good about it is each of us makes a personal, individual, decision to give that money. It’s our money and we choose voluntarily to give it to this cause or that cause.

Aid spending by Government is not the same. It is where some special interest group manages to lobby the right bureaucrat or politician and gets a fat slice of taxpayers’ money. You and I have no choice. We do not voluntarily give and we do not choose where the money goes.

So, yes, I am in favour of individuals giving to charity. But I am not in favour of government taxing me, taking a slice of that tax revenue and spending it overseas.

The British government exists to work for the British people. Not for citizens of other countries. It is therefore outside its legitimate remit to spend money like this. That is solely for individuals to choose to do voluntarily with their own money.

The list of crackpot aid projects funded by us is too long to list.

Then there are all the dodgy government officials in these developing countries who stuff their Swiss bank accounts of our money and stick two fingers up at their own people. They skim off the top and spend a fraction where the money is intended.

Britain donates aid money to INDIA, when India has more billionaires than Britain. India spends a £1 billion a year on a space program. I think it’s time for India’s elite to take care of their own people.

The solution to poverty is trade, not aid… which merely keeps people impoverished… like giving a drug addict another fix.

Instead, we should be pulling down the EU trade barriers that block or impose tariffs on agriculture and goods from Africa and Asia. This is what keeps them poor.

Meanwhile we pay our own rich farmers fat subsidies, while trying to appease our guilt by spending money on development aid. It’s completely hypocritical, counterproductive and wrong.

This is Priti Patel. She’s the UK International Development Secretary. Before she got that job, she called for the department - DFID - to be abolished. I agree. Not only should DFID be shutdown, all £12 billion it spends on overseas aid should be cancelled.

There are a few circumstances where, for example, in the event of an earthquake, Government is the only agency with the logistical capacity to respond, with helicopters, troops etc. Of course, that should continue. But that’s not where most of the money is spent.

I say: let’s privatise overseas aid.

As DFID is shutdown, it could be replaced by a social enterprise, run by independent directors. Government could give it a one off grant of 10, 20, £50 million to get it off the ground.

Its purpose - to market to business and the public - to give voluntarily to development programs, collaborating with existing aid charities.

Take this example. Pampers teamed up with UNICEF to pay for one life-saving vaccination for every pack of nappies purchased. This is a wonderful collaboration between business, charities and consumers, each making voluntary decisions. It’s called “cause-related marketing”. This social enterprise could work as a dating agency, helping match brands to overseas aid projects like this.

This is morally a better way to fund overseas aid.

The job of our government is to put Britain first and use our taxes to pay for projects at home. The British people will always make individual voluntary decisions to help others when we can.

I’m Leon Hawthorne. Thanks for watching.


© Leon Hawthorne. MMXX.