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Oxfam revelations have me thinking about aid effectiveness

Readers' letters | Published:

After the recent revelations about Oxfam and other international charities, my sympathy goes out to those who freely give their time and money to such organisations.

It is to be hoped that local UK charities do not suffer because of the adverse publicity as their good work and use of money are much easier to appreciate and check on.

As hard as it might be for some, maybe we should look harder at large international charities with rather plush headquarters and rather plush salaries for those in charge. It could also be time to reflect on how much good all this money is doing and where a lot of it is actually spent.

Billions of pounds are sent by the UK every year to many countries and you wonder if the recipient countries see this as part of their national income to be spent as they think fit, or to be spent as they think unfit. How much of this money papers over the cracks of a failing nation and keeps that nation from producing a government and policies to remedy their problems?

The UK should be well past having any post-colonial guilt after the billions of pounds it has sent abroad for well over 50 years.

The biggest problem is that the amounts of money and material sent abroad are too large to monitor. Those keeping count in the UK no doubt get reports and maybe a small percentage of works are actually checked, but most items will rely on third parties and, of course, the recipient countries with their own agendas.

Sending machines and materials produced in the UK with instructors to help another nation could help, but the current volume of overseas aid seems to have made only a small difference after 50-odd years.

Finally, just some figures to dwell on. In 2015 the UK spent £12.1 billion on aid. In 2016 the provisional figure was £13.3 billion. During the EU Referendum the Leave Campaign promised an extra £350 million a week for the NHS – or £17.9 billion.

The UK is close to spending that amount on overseas aid this year.

Peter Steggles, Longnor

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