Article for Ethno News -13th February 2006
Many people of African origin live in my constituency of Camberwell and Peckham.
They come from 14 African countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Somalia.
I know that as well as working extremely hard in providing for themselves and their immediate family here in the UK, they also make a major contribution to tackling poverty in their country of origin by sending money home in the form of remittances.
Despite being one of the poorest boroughs in the country, I believe that Southwark is probably the borough that makes the biggest contribution to tackling poverty and supporting development in Africa.
And the Government has put international development and tackling poverty at the top of our international agenda by highlighting the issue during the G8 summit and during our Presidency of the European Union as well as increasing UK aid and writing off debt to the UK.
The Chancellor also referred to remittances in his recent Pre-Budget Report. He said:
“Remittances have a significant positive economic impact in developing countries, although they should be seen as a complement to aid, not a replacement. People from developing countries who are living and working in the UK are an important source of remittances, with flows to developing countries totalling around £2.3 billion annually. The Government is active in a number of areas to facilitate the flow of remittances, including working with recipient countries on financial sector development, engaging with the private sector to improve remittance services, and working to increase domestic financial inclusion.
The Government intends to keep the amount and destination of remittances and their contribution to development under review.”
In order to assist his formulation of policy to support remittances I am carrying out a questionnaire on the extent and destination of remittances.
Who sends, how much, to whom, and how is it used.
This is a sensitive issue as it involves personal finances – so the confidentiality of that information will be respected and will be used for compiling statistics and for background only.
A number of Southwark –African community organisations have agreed to sponsor the questionnaire and distribute it for me.
The report I compile from the information in the questionnaire will be a unique insight into the great efforts hard-working families of African origin living in the UK make to help their families and villages back home. Tax payers, through the Treasury, make a big contribution to international development. But the hard work and great generosity of the Diaspora must not be overlooked.