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Charities quick to defend aid cash spending
NORTH Yorkshire charities have spoken out against a Yorkshire MEP who criticised the Government’s overseas aid programme.
Godfrey Bloom, the UK Independence Party euro MP for the Yorkshire and Humber, criticised the Department for International Development’s overseas work with millions of pounds of British aid money.
Mr Bloom said he did not expect the department to “confiscate money to give away at your discretion”, and called the donation of money to undemocratic states in Africa a “disgrace”.
He said: “We are one of the most highly-taxed industrial countries in the world. Petrol and diesel is almost unaffordable to the average family, thousands are in fuel poverty. Yet you give money away. It is not yours to give. The British people are among the most generous in the world and at the top of charity donations per capita.
“You give money to countries with space programmes and aircraft carriers, undemocratic autocratic states in Africa. Lord knows where the money ends up. If I want to give money to charity, I will. I do not expect you to confiscate money to give away at your discretion.”
A spokeswoman for International Service, a York-based charity, said: “As a charity based in York that supports local people in developing countries to overcome extreme poverty and inequality, we do understand that overseas aid can sometimes feel like a distant issue, especially in times like these.
“However, the UK remains one of the richest nations in the world and we spend less than 0.7 per cent of our income on helping people in developing countries. This is a tiny fraction compared with what we spend on things like education, healthcare, welfare, and defence.”
“Vaccinating millions of people against preventable diseases, ensuring that young children, especially girls, are receiving an education, and helping people work themselves out of poverty can hardly be called a disgrace.”
Alex Jones, of Christian Aid UK, said: “Christian Aid would not dream of suggesting that there is not very real suffering here in the UK, particularly in the light of Government budget cuts. However, the standard of living in the UK is very much higher than in the world’s poorest communities.
“Free health and education is something that millions can only dream of. One billion people still live with acute hunger on a daily basis. Government aid is given with a great deal of accountability and transparency. It is a vital part in the fight against abject poverty.”
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