A study by the Institute of Development Studies has found that most people think aid spending should be cut to help deal with the
deficit. 63 per cent of those asked, in fact. Considering its budget is ring-fenced, alongside health, this is currently not possible but it's yet another clear reminder of why ring-fencing budgets is such a bad idea. As I said last week, ring-fencing aid is more inadvisable than protecting health, and this study confirms that the health budget is looked upon far more favourably.
The British public is very generous in response to disasters abroad. The recent DEC appeal for money following the disastrous floods in Pakistan was testament to that. This study also finds that the majority of people think it's morally right to help the world's poor. So the question is not one of "aid or no aid?". It's all about how it's delivered, and for what. Our past research has shown that over 14 per cent of the international development budget is lost in administration between the taxpayer and the frontline, where it's needed.
An International Policy Network (IPN) report traces the history of the 0.7 per cent of national income target that seems to be now accepted as some sort of magic number. It comes from a financing gap theory that if applied properly today would actually mean committing less than 0.7 per cent. All this shows just how absurd the target is. Sticking to such a pledge when there is a necessary pressure to find savings is therefore misguided, to put it politely.