Letter: If only the UK Government of the day adopted a charity begins at home approach

This letter sent to the Star was written by Cyril Olsen, Busk Meadow, Sheffield, S5

Thursday, 8th August 2019, 9:01 am
Updated Monday, 12th August 2019, 6:58 am
Joy Arnott, volunteer cook leader, pictured preparing a Fruit Salad. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-31-07-19-HolidayHunger-1

Your Star, August 2, Meal Scheme article 'It's sad we have to be here and that so many kids need this' made for very distressing reading, especially as there is a remedy to the necessity of having food banks, if only the UK Government of the day adopted a charity begins at home approach when dealing with this matter.

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Many people are critical of the amount of foreign aid given by the UK each year. We spent £14.1 billion in 2018. The total amount spent each year rises in line with economic growth as the Government is committed to matching a United Nations target of spending 0.7% of national gross product each year. In other words the more prosperous our economy becomes the more we have to donate to foreign aid when it could be put to better use to eradicate the need for foodbanks. In addition to the Government foreign aid the UK public donate their considerable individual help to overseas charities.

It is very galling to know that much of this aid is not reaching the people it is intended for but finds its way into the pockets of state rulers, government officials and along the chain of materiel supply. A glaring example of misuse of our funding is in India. Over a period of time we sent them £1.17 billion to help their people. Of this figure the government has spent £330 million to build a Statue of Unity at Gujarat! The UK is the third largest aid contributor behind the United States and Germany. In 2017/18 we gave Pakistan £402 million, Nigeria 327, Ethiopia 326, Syria 314, Somalia 282. We even managed to send our European friends 223, another reason for their not wanting us to Brexit!

During April 2018 to March 2019 a record 1.6million food parcels were distributed by the UK biggest food charity the Trussell Trust Food Banks. Include this in the output of the c 2000 and rising food banks and the mind boggles. With so many generous people in Sheffield and nationwide donating food to these banks it is impossible for me to estimate the actual monetary cost involved in these donations. What I do know is that if we halved the £14.17 billion foreign aid budget that would release £7 billion to be spent on our own food poverty problems. This should provide means for the eradication /vast reduction of foodbanks and children going hungry. £7 billion continuing overseas aid is still a very significant figure to help Third World countries in need.