Bill Gates and UK public want action on development

First some good news.  I was really encouraged to see the story in today’s Independent which reports that the public are still strong supporters of the UK aid budget.  When asked what percentage of government expenditure went on aid they guessed, on average, 15% (the real figure is 1.1%).  And when asked what percentage they thought it should be, they said 7%.  So, it looks like there’s a job to do in terms of getting the message out about the real situation and the work that still needs to be done.

Given how generous Tearfund supporters are – and the public in general – when it comes to responding to disasters, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that they are keen that our government continues to do its bit as well.

And Bill Gates  also offered some welcome support for development today, with the launch of his report to the G20.

He stressed that leaders can’t get so immersed in dealing with the current economic crisis in the eurozone that they lose sight of the ongoing battle to tackle global poverty and help poor communities to tackle climate change – a theme that Paul Cook (in Cannes) expands upon in Tearfund’s latest press release. Gates spells out how vital it will be to innovate to ensure that the finance needed to support the poorest is made available, and expresses support for the adoption of a Robin Hood Tax – as well as taxes on aviation and shipping and greater transparency to ensure that resources from the oil, gas and mining industries are used in a way that benefits poor communities.


This is welcome and high profile support for a number of the things that Tearfund supporters have been campaigning for recently.

However, the other footage coming from Cannes has been less encouraging.  While it has been fascinating to see the new world pecking order emerging – President Hu Jintao of China keeping his host, Sarkozy, waiting for his arrival, and the Chinese, Russians, Brazilians and other being courted for money to bail out former European powers – the fact is that saving rich economies in the short term is taking precedent over saving lives and creating a fairer world in the long term.  Frustrating.  As Gates points out, it is by working together to look for new ways forward which will lead to greener and more equitable growth and this will help us to get through the current crisis.  Let’s hope these leaders start to think about building a different and fairer future, and take concrete steps forward on some of Gates’ suggestions.





  1. […] to another question, he confirmed that the UK government would not support the Robin Hood Tax which Bill Gates had promoted just last week at the G20, unless it was adopted […]

  2. […] shows that, as a nation, we are as committed to tackling poverty as we are to our NHS (see my post last November on the Independent poll which showed overall public support for […]

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