It is preferred to give Zakat locally if deserving recipients exist. This is based in part on the instruction that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave to his companion, Mu’adh, who was sent to spread the message of Islam in Yemen, “O Mu’adh! Inform them that Allah makes Zakat obligatory for them. (It is) to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.” [Bukhari]
At the same time, scholars allow for the distribution of Zakat to places where there is significant need. As Muslims living in the UK, it is important that we balance our giving between local and international causes, bearing in mind that our collective accountability for the poor and destitute within the UK is paramount and must not be forgotten. The number of those eligible to receive Zakat in the UK is increasing and such individuals have a right to the support of UK Zakat payers.
To learn more, visit nzf.org.uk and fulfil your third pillar with National Zakat Foundation.