Understanding public attitudes to aid and development
Published date: 25 Jun 2012
Download full publication
This report, the outcome of a joint project between IPPR and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), argues that while the UK government and public have historically been strong advocates of the international development agenda, there are clear signs that the consensus around the value of aid is starting to fray.
New findings based on analysis of a series of deliberative workshops conducted around the UK suggest that the financial crisis and recent spending cuts have diminished public support for increasing or even maintaining current levels of UK aid spending. There are high levels of concern about waste and inefficiency in the distribution of aid, and it appears that this has been reinforced by some of the communications and fundraising images used by NGOs and governments. The repeated use of images that show people living in desperate need has created an impression that very little has changed over the past few decades.
Click here to download more details of the discourse analysis conducted by Linguistics Landscapes on the deliberative workshop discussions.
However, this research has also revealed considerable appetite for greater understanding of development and for more complex stories of how change and progress happens. Instead of a simple reassurance that ‘aid works’, people would like to hear about how and why it works, why it doesn’t always work and the reasons aid alone cannot achieve development targets. Process and progress stories will both be core to winning sustainable public support for aid and development in the future.
The main recommendations of the report are that:
- NGOs and government need to better understand the impact of their communication strategies on public opinion, and design fundraising appeals and other campaign communications in ways that do not risk further undermining public support for aid in the medium to long term. Care should also be taken to ensure messages reinforce moral commitments to what is right and fair rather than relying on more self-interested messages,
- Campaigns should do more to communicate how change can and does happen in developing countries, including the role aid can play in catalysing or facilitating this change.
- Campaigns and communication strategies could do more to link debates about ‘responsible capitalism’ to the challenges facing developing countries.
- Greater public engagement could generate productive debates about the UK’s international development objectives and priorities, as well as increased public support for aid and development.
Will Straw, Associate Director for Climate Change, Energy and Transport
Alex Glennie, Senior Research Fellow
In the news
Majority favours reduction in UK aid spend
The Guardian - 08 Oct 2013
Poverty blamed on corruption, governance
Conservativehome - 06 Sep 2013
Author(s) : Richard Darlington - 07 Apr 2014
You may be interested in...
IPPR in the news
Ministers are 'not trusted'
Daily Mirror - 14 Apr 2014A real alternative to loan sharks
Sunday People - 14 Apr 2014Politicians of all stripes suffer sharp fall in trust
Telegraph - 14 Apr 201436% have faith in the parliamentary system
Metro - 14 Apr 2014
Labour pledges to introduce Regional Ministers
ITV News - 09 Apr 2014Putting the voice of English regions at the heart of decision-making
The Independent - 09 Apr 2014Labour's plan to 'bust open' civil service
Guardian - 09 Apr 2014Young electorate showing disenchantment with today’s politics
Financial Times - 08 Apr 2014
Labour's plans to boost Whitehall diversity
Evening Standard - 07 Apr 2014Dugher plan to 'bust open' Whitehall to 'working class'
BBC News Website - 07 Apr 2014Dugher will announce higher diversity targets for civil service
Independent on Sunday - 07 Apr 2014Tim Finch on The Big Migration Debate
BBC World Service - 07 Apr 2014
Michael Dugher: We need a more representative civil service
Mirror - 07 Apr 2014Politicians don't care about young people
Huffington Post - 07 Apr 2014Spencer Thompson on European jobs and skills (8min 30)
BBC World Service - 04 Apr 2014Graeme Henderson on greater collaboration between Scotland and North (1hr 36)
BBC Radio Cumbria - 04 Apr 2014
Summit will address funding for NW creatives
Manchester Evening News - 03 Apr 2014The UK's future lies in well-skilled work
The Guardian - 02 Apr 2014Hancock unveils 77 new tech levels at European Jobs and Skills Sumit
FE Week - 02 Apr 2014It’s not just prison books that are under threat, it’s British justice
The Telegraph - 02 Apr 2014