Viral emails protesting about government spending on international aid - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 29 December 2014 | Standard notes SN06682

Authors: Lorna Booth, Gloria Tyler

Topic: International development

Members may be contacted by constituents complaining at the perceived contrast between generous government spending on foreign aid and inadequate domestic benefits and services, citing a forwarded chain email.

This viral email, sometimes given the title ‘Something to think about’ alleges that “We’re broke and can’t help our own Pensioners, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless, etc”. It cites figures for international aid to various countries – and also Hamas – while making claims of governmental neglect of various domestic groups.

The House of Commons Library first became aware of the email in early 2013, but it has been circulating on the internet in some form since at least 2010, and appears to have originated in the US.

The figures quoted in the email, which are often without any indication of currency, do not resemble actual UK international aid figures. It is however true that, as the email claims, the UK spends billions of pounds on aid (£11.5 billion in 2013)

This note gives details of the email, actual UK foreign aid figures, and some information on state support available to those groups named in the email.

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