We are supposed to pat ourselves on the back because we're handing over £11 billion or thereabouts in aid to needy countries. Much of this either props ups government budgets (and in doing so reduces any incentive to actually collect some taxes) or is spent on politically-correct environmental and education programmes. But that's as maybe - there's a much more important support going from the UK to those needy countries:
Just one in 20 households in the UK make remittances, which are transfers of cash back to countries of origin to either families or communities. Yet, even though they are small in number, with an average remittance worth £31 per week, the World Bank estimated that last year some $23.16bn was transferred in remittances from the UK.
This money goes directly to real people, it doesn't need officials to administer it or aid workers to manage it. There's no need for grand plans or strategies. And it works - the people getting remittances spend it on improving their lives. On building better homes, on buying a bicycle or paying bus fares.
This is real international aid:
Analysis of household survey data show that remittances have reduced poverty and resulted in better development outcomes in many low-income countries. Remittances may have reduced the share of poor people in the population by 11 percentage points in Uganda, 6 percentage points in Bangladesh and 5 percentage points in Ghana. Studies in El Salvador and Sri Lanka find that the children of remittance recipient households have a lower school drop-out rate. In Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka children in remittance recipient households have higher birth weights and better health indicators than other households.