In June this year, people all across Europe were interviewed about their attitudes towards development aid and its role in tackling poverty, and the results are now in.
The British public should be so proud of the responses from around the UK — as 90% of respondents said it’s important to help people in developing countries.
Currently, the UK contributes 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to development aid.
And according to the survey, 69% of Britons think spending to developing countries should increase (26%) or remain the same (43%), reportedly describing maintaining aid spending as a “major priority.”
“Despite the gloomy picture often painted, British people support building a more peaceful, progressive, and prosperous world for all,” Romilly Greenhill, UK director of the One Campaign, told the Guardian.
“Politicians in Westminster should heed this news,” Greenhill added. “Whatever the problems they grapple with today, British people are focusing on tomorrow, and believe that helping people in developing countries contributes to a more peaceful and fairer world.”
The annual survey was carried out by the Eurobarometer, the EU’s polling organisation. It asked 26,464 Europeans for their views on things like migration, gender, the private sector, and the role of national governments and the EU in development issues.
Similar to the UK’s response, almost 90% of respondents across the EU said it’s important to support people in developing countries.
The results of the Eurobarometer survey come just days after the UK’s International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, told cross-party MPs that both he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are committed to maintaining the UK’s aid spending at current levels.
Sharma addressed members of the international development select committee — which works to scrutinise aid spending and ensure it’s being spent in a way that tackles extreme poverty most effectively — on Monday.
The fact that the UK continues spending 0.7% of GNI on development aid is actually really important — despite attacks from some outspoken critics, politicians, and some media outlets.
And spending 0.7% of GNI on aid has actually been enshrined in UK law since 2015.
“It’s a travesty that in 2019, so many world leaders are turning their backs on the people stuck at the bottom, leaving them without a way to even escape poverty,” said Claire Godfrey, head of policy and campaigns for Bond, the UK network for NGOs.
“Thankfully, the UK isn’t one of those countries,” she added.
Sharma also told MPs on Monday that he supports an independent Department for International Development (DfID).
“My personal view very much is that [DfID] should continue as an independent department,” Sharma, who admitted to previously being “agnostic” on the suggestion of a merger, said.
He reportedly said he’s now a DfID “champion” — after being convinced by the department’s global reputation as being a strong and efficient spender of aid funding.
It’s important reassurance on what has been a controversial issue. There have previously been proposals, including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his former role as foreign secretary, to merge DfID with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
It might sound trivial, but it’s an important decision when it comes to ensuring that the UK’s aid funding is spent as effectively as possible in the mission to end extreme poverty by 2030.
DfID is a key player on the global stage in terms of spending aid money effectively and transparently — it’s actually the third best in the world at it.
Issues in aid spending — what the Daily Mail refers to as a “waste of money” — generally come from when aid is spent by other government departments that don’t have such a strong record of spending aid effectively to tackle poverty.
Instead, he assured that DfID will be increasing its work to support other government departments in spending aid money as effectively as possible — including the secondments of 160 DfID staff to other departments that are already in place.
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