Thursday, 29 December 2011

Are We Less Inclined To Support Others?

In case you don't know - I didn't - the picture is of MP Nick Hurd, the minister for civic society.

Mr Hurd is angry because we are not giving enough to charity.  I'm angry because he has the gall to accuse the British public of lacking in compassion because they won't fill charities' coffers.

Speaking in response to the British Social Attitudes survey published earlier this month that found that we have become less inclined to support others:

But he said that being the fifth most generous nation was not enough.
‘The Government’s role is not to tell people what to do, but we can make it easier and more compelling for people to give.’ 

Suddenly?  I think not. Could it be that people are still smarting from the coalition's decision to spend increase funding, through the Department for International Development, for overseas aid and funding ridiculous UK projects?  £8.1bn was spent by DfID this year and serious criticism about the administering of DfID's actions persists.

I have no problem with helping the world's poor if the money is directly helping people achieve better health or clamber out of desperate poverty, but it would seem DfID don't keep proper records of their spending activities. They churn out endless reports that suggest methods which could make sure the aid is reaching the source of projects, but action is minimal. The world's poor are by-passed in many massive wealth-transfer schemes.

The UK commitment to supporting overseas development will be 0.7% of gross national income from 2013. It may seem a mere drop in the UK's ocean of debt but when politicians have to defend their spending by saying "projects are old", it merely emphasises the massive amount of money that has been wasted in recent years.

But, if much of the money spent is not being used efficiently and producing results that benefit those in need, why do DfID continue to spend it?  Until they introduce a system of accountability that accommodates publicly scrutiny, only projects which can offer evidence that donations have benefitted those in desperate need should be funded.

Annually I give to a small local charity. I know how much they spend on PR, salaries, office space and other administration. It's very clearly stated on their website. Haiti received or was pledged $11bn yet the world's unprecedented effort to rebuild it has turned into a disaster of good intentions.

Mr Hurd should give a little more thought about why we're donating less and not making the sweeping statement that we don't give enough. In my experience we're very generous, but maybe we're becoming more aware of where and how we place our hard-earned cash.  Certainly I am and no lecture from any politician will make me change my behaviour.

Money follows the law of diminishing returns. Given any problem a little money often helps, but a lot usually doesn't help lots more. Are we less inclined to support others? I think not.



JuliaM said...

"...but maybe we're becoming more aware of where and how we place our hard-earned cash."

That's what he fears. That's what governments always fear.

Quiet_Man said...

Did a similar post myself today, we're still giving away our cash to Brazil which is higher than us in the world economic table, we also give aid to nuclear powers Pakistan and India, that's the same India that has a space program too.
Meanwhile our pensioners die of cold, starve, get piled into "out of sight out of mind" care homes and are generally treated with contempt or as an afterthought.
Charity begins at home, governments should realise that.

subrosa said...

Exactly Julia.

subrosa said...

What I don't understand QM is why those called lefties condone the behaviour of DfID. They're perfectly content to see their taxes drift out of the country to anywhere, as long as they see a celeb on TV standing by a waterpipe and saying what a wonderful impact the money is making.

It's no wonder this country is broke.

Anonymous said...

Don't politicians realise that the average person does not want to be lectured to, especially by yet another Eton, Oxford, Bullingdon man, who can afford the luxury of endless donation to charity, without having to wander about his mortgage of electricity bill.

The Hon Nick Hurd (his dad is a lord) is also responsible for the Big Society, the reason Cameron came into politics.

Seeing as it is such an abysmal failure, should Cameron not now get out of politics?

Anonymous said...

There seem to be more charities than ever.

I don't know how charities work but I would expect that they collect donations on the basis that they have a need which they are committed to meeting.

First thing, do they start from a position of the overhead is 'X' so we need to find that urgently.

Second, if they are targeting support then do they publish their delivery plan, update it as they go and then report on if it was met or not?

Third, how do they get address the elephant in the room? The obvious bottom line which says they have met their aims, there is no longer a problem so there is no reason for their continuing?

Charities have become and industry.

Charity does begin at home.

Anonymous said...

There seem to be more charities than ever.

I don't know how charities work but I would expect that they collect donations on the basis that they have a need which they are committed to meeting.

First thing, do they start from a position of the overhead is 'X' so we need to find that urgently.

Second, if they are targeting support then do they publish their delivery plan, update it as they go and then report on if it was met or not?

Third, how do they get address the elephant in the room? The obvious bottom line which says they have met their aims, there is no longer a problem so there is no reason for their continuing?

Charities have become and industry.

Charity does begin at home.

Clarinda said...

An observation - there appear to be more and more small charities being set up, often in memorial of some personal tragedy, that result in a greater spreading of the public's charitable fund and effort. This is noticed by some of the older established charities who find their income affected. This desire to assist smaller charities is quite understandable but it may not only dilute contributions but the research effort and staff involved in vital preventative and treatment work on a national and international scale in the larger charities.
I hope everyone who stated their intention to donate to charity instead of buying and sending Christmas cards did so at this years full increased card and postal costs?

JRB said...

Nicholas Richard Hurd - Eton College; Oxford; Bullingdon Club; Conservative party.

His background perhaps explains his crass arrogance, but does not excuse it.

Perhaps he and his fellow government ministers should follow the old adage that ‘charity begins at home’.
For where in this government’s policy do we find the much needed help and support for our poor, our sick and our elderly?

Joe Public said...

I'm with Q_M, TT & JRB on this - Charity begins at home.

Overseas aid: Where a few well-off politicians in this country unilaterally decide that millions of the less-well-off from this country should contribute to the coffers of a few foreign despots.

Woman on a Raft said...

Annually I give to a small local charity.

Agree. I can't afford to give money to keep PR men in work. I therefore only support charities I know for a fact are doing what they are supposed to do and what I approve of. Nationally, the RNLI and Help for Heroes are safe bets but otherwise I'm choosy about local hospices, schools, education and historical charities.

I NEVER give to redistributive charities - either I give the money direct or not at all. Sorry but that means the Mrs Miggins Memorial Fund for Giving Money To Other Charities is out.

Even then, I sometimes come unstuck. I've taken part in various drives only to find that the money was not for the charity itself but that it had been persuaded to hand over the money to some unspecified "good cause".

I have a very rude term for this, where the object is to feel good rather than do good: I call it "w*nking through your own halo".

Anonymous said...

I always approach this sort of thing from a different angle.

There is a worldwide movement who believe that they are superior to the ordinary oik on the street – that they can run things better than us if we give them the money and allow them to sort out the world’s troubles.

The setting up of numerous “charities” is to build up a bureaucratic structure around them (capacity building) all of the same mind, and yes, to step into governance – as has happened in Greece and Italy, in the form of “technocratic government”.

The ever-increasing amounts of money we give to charities are to support this new structure.

Apparently the European Union gave £51bn of aid to the developing countries in the last year and the kids are still starving.

And the CEOs are still running around, from glass palace to glass palace, in chauffeur-driven limousines – how they all love “the process”.

At least when I sent in my pocket money to Blue Peter I could see a school being built or new water saving well appearing – now our money just goes on bureaucrats.

(Sorry about the length SR)

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Equating politics with charity is an oxymoron.

As a nation we are extremely charitable in our support for the Westminster donkeys.

Gedguy said...

I remember reading an article in the 70s by an extreme left wing political publication which pointed out that the vast majority of 'aid' was really nothing of the sort. They gave the example of so called 'aid' of the UK government buying millions of pounds of nearly out of date drugs manufactured by British Companies and 'given' as 'aid' to third world companies. By the time the majority of those drugs reached the places that they were meant to help; they were well out of date. So, something that was classified as 'aid' was, in actual fact, subsidisation of British drug industries.
Haven't you ever wondered why the British tend to just 'muddle through' things and just shrug their shoulders and say: "Ah well, it's all so complicated, you see."? It isn't complicated at all; they are ripping us taxpayers off in a huge swindle and have been doing so for ever. The lack of proper financial scrutiny is not a case of 'muddling through' but a deliberate policy to hide the fact that there is a massive financial con going on perpetrated by the higher ranked civil servants in conjunction with British industry.
Why are social security claimants hounded if they attempted to claim more than they should? Because they don't have the 'right' to steal off the system. Whereas, large companies are encouraged to steal as much as they can and, if there is a media hunt against those companies, then the tax man will find another way to let them keep tax payments. Why is it so difficult to find out the 'jobs' that 'retired' senior civil servants have with those same big companies?
We are being ripped off on a massive scale but all the figures are hidden to stop people like me from finding this out. How many of us believe the UK Government's figures on the amount of money that they [the UK Treasury] take from Scotland in comparison to what is given back? If you believe, like I do, that the UK government has always lied about those figures then what makes you think that they haven't been doing this with the rest of UK Government departments?

English Pensioner said...

The government already gives to a charity called "Overseas Aid" on my behalf from my taxes without asking whether I wish to contribute or not. The average amount per family is in the order of £500, so will be considerably more if you are actually a taxpayer.
For that reason, I refuse absolutely to give any money whatsoever to charities working abroad, they can go and ask the government for a share of the money that has been forcibly taken from me. Nor will I support many of the big charities, who seem more interested in promoting themselves than doing what the public would expect of them.
Any donations are now reserved for medical research charities based in the UK and small local charities run largely by volunteers where every penny counts.

Apogee said...

Any one wanting their eyes opened on charities and Government should just Google "fake charities", sit down with a big mug of coffee,you might need something stronger, and start reading the results.The amount of your (taxpayers)money given to what amounts to government fronts masquerading as charities is staggering,as is the ways it is hidden,and to where and who it actually goes. read it and learn and then think about Government ministers making stupid statements.
Remember that governments do not own any money, it all belongs to the taxpayer from whom it was blagged in the first place to be used to the benefit of the taxpayers.
We, as a country are probably giving away, supposedly to the poor of other countries who will never see it,enough money to solve our countries debt problems,while their governments who could help their own people are too busy with space programs , atomic weapons programs, which our aid money,our charity is subsidising. Why is our government doing this, did you vote for them to do this?

microdave said...

"Charity begins at home, governments should realise that."

I told my (Tory) MP that charity should begin at home. However the reply was "But it doesn't end there"... In other words they will continue to steal our money through taxation, and spend it as they see fit.

Charities have become an industry."

Indeed they have. The "Third Sector" exists to support charities, and if you download typical charity annual accounts you will find they mostly give grants to each other. It actually becomes very difficult to see where their money does come from...

subrosa said...

Tris, most of them think it's for 'ur own good'. Or maybe that's my interpretation.

subrosa said...

TT you could set up a charity no bother. I wanted to make a miniscule contribution to my local community recently and was told I would have to register as a charity. When I said the small amount of financial investment came solely from me, I was informed by someone that 'I'd be in line for grants then'.

Once I heard that I gave up the idea. It was simple and may have done a couple of lonely people good, but I wasn't prepared to be involved in red tape or a branch of 'big charities'.

subrosa said...

Clarinda, if small charities took the lead of the international research charity which I support:

then there would be far more money available to causes such as those.

Too many of us drop a coin into a box without though (I'm guilty). However, if I did consider the odd pence in a box would I approve of the cause the box proclaimed?

subrosa said...

Charity does begin at home John but I can't understand why we're dolling out dosh to other countries when we're so much in debt.

Why aren't the public protesting? They're good at doing that about pay and conditions but surely they know that if these DiFD payments were curtailed, then their situation may improve.

Am I being naive?

subrosa said...

Exactly Joe and succinctly evaluated.

subrosa said...

WoaR, I've got to the stage that any charity that wants my money has to come clean. When I say that in the street the poor souls who shake the cans look aghast and think 'a bitter old woman's excuse'. Not so. The odd time I've involved these caring volunteers into conversation, I find that many are just enamoured with the title of the charity.

Mention cancer, children or the 'emotional' diseases and people will give.

My charity is named in my response to Clarinda. The Ninewells Cancer Research charity doesn't shake tins or feature in press releases. It firmly believes that every penny should go into research.

People in Scotland give much to 'cancer research' along with others in the UK, yet few realise the money raised in Scotland goes directly into the coffers of the Imperial Cancer Fund in London.

Perhaps it's about time 'my' wee charity -which is acclaimed worldwide for it's excellence - decides to employ someone for PR activities.

Do you think I should apply?

subrosa said...

Ouch! Indeed we are Crinkly.

Observer said...

I have a problem with some charities which are not actually charities they are actually businesses & operate as such. I am not really sure that you should be able to do that.

I certainly donate as I genuinely feel a moral obligation to do so, being far luckier in life than many of my fellow human beings due to an accident of birth, being born in Scotland to a family that raised me well.

But I am bloody careful who gets the dosh I give.

Observer said...

I think most foreign aid is actually distributed by the govt for political reasons. I don't think it's really aid unless there is a disaster. Generally it's to promote either British or special interest.

subrosa said...

Dave, what I read about them shows the money comes from taxpayers then, as you say, gets circulated within these NGOs, because that's what most are.

subrosa said...

I certainly don't think they should be allowed to do that Observer.

Like you, I too feel morally obliged to help those less fortunate than me, but that doesn't mean to say I'm prepared to give to Oxfam and the like. Learned many years ago about Oxfam practices.

Why do we allow the second biggest expenditure (the first being our military) to be so though? That's what I don't understand.

The MSM occasionally do one or two articles about it. They should be shouting from the rooftops.

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