Hidden costs of sending 'aid' money back to Africa
African workers in London send home on average £130 per month to support family members in their country of origin, with some individuals sending more than a quarter of their income. And many of these workers are taking on two or three low-pay jobs to make ends meet.
The figures are contained in a new report by Harriet Harman MP on remittances amongst the African community living in her constituency in Southwark.
One in five respondents to the survey reported sending back more than 20 per cent of their monthly income, with one resident sending over forty per cent. The report illustrates the vital, and largely unseen, contribution that remittances play in tackling poverty and development in Africa.
The survey also revealed that:
The Government has estimated that the total annual remittances to the developing world from people living and working in the UK to be £2.3 billion.
Harriet Harman said: “The families and individuals involved in sending these much-needed funds back are the hidden heroes of international development. Most of the families are making a real sacrifice often under great duress from working long hours at low-paid jobs. It is clear from the report, that remittances play a vital role in Africa, helping children go to school, ensuring care for the elderly and supporting community services such as health clinics.
The Government has already shown great leadership by the priority it has given to international development. The Treasury also highlighted the problem of remittances in the 2005 pre-Budget Report. By listening to the experiences of local diaspora communities and working together we can strengthen this approach even more.”
“The money you send is so vital; they need it for their everyday life”
“When you send £50-100, there is a charge of £14 – it is too much, so you have to send even more. It’s not easy”
“I send money every month to help my family – the money means a lot as it means my family can buy food, pay the rent each month and my brother’s children can go school”