DUNCAN BARKES A time when there is a case for charity to begin at home

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay...And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me...

ABBA’s lyrics might be more than 30 years old, but never were they so apt. And while we know that government funds are in short supply, it seems to me the available cash is being spent incorrectly; the priorities are wrong.

Recent pictures in the Observer have seen ‘Don’t Cut Us Out!’ campaigners protesting outside County Hall.

This campaign is aimed at urging councillors to reconsider funding reductions that will significantly reduce care support and benefits in West Sussex.

I remember the early days of the Blair regime when his government attempted to overhaul the welfare state. It resulted in disabled protesters chaining themselves to the railings around Downing Street.

Blair quickly changed course in order to avoid a public relations nightmare.

Such stunts have not (yet) taken place outside County Hall, but the sight of hundreds of vulnerable people protesting will surely test the resolve of even the most hardened councillor.

With less money than ever before from central government, West Sussex County Council is in the unenviable position of having to reduce services and benefits.

At the same time the government seems quite prepared to borrow money to fund other initiatives, but how many of these, I wonder, have the support of the British people?

Across the country libraries have been closed, youth centres shutdown and facilities for the elderly canned. But David Cameron believes the UK can still hold its head up high, as it is not cutting its international aid budget, which currently stands at around £9 billion a year.

Countries that benefit include India, which has its own nuclear and space projects. Is it unreasonable to suggest that if India has the cash to invest in these areas then it should not need our contribution?

Then we have the UK’s ongoing bailouts, through the European Union and the International Money Fund, of the bust economies of Portugal, Ireland and Greece. Our government is borrowing money to rescue these countries, despite the UK not being in the Eurozone.

We are a decent and pragmatic nation. When times are good we do not mind lending a hand to countries less fortunate than ourselves. It is what we do best.

But when we are up against it and see our government happily borrowing money it can ill afford to service financial commitments elsewhere at the expense of UK people, I feel decidedly uncomfortable.

I would prefer to reduce the international aid budget and stop the bailouts. Does that make me a bad person?

Or do others, perhaps including some of those who were demonstrating at County Hall recently, share my view?