Immigrants working in London and other parts of the country have a right to send money back to their families – and remittances are actually good for our economy, writes Ben Ramanauskas
You have probably seen them around. There might even be one in your tube carriage right now. Adverts for companies which allow people to send money home to their families. According to some rather predictable voices, the idea of immigrants sending funds home is out of control and those who have moved there simply see the city as a cash cow. These criticisms are misplaced.
To some extent, we all see London as a cash cow whether you were born here or not. I myself am originally from Huddersfield but moved to London to work and have occasionally sent money home. However, this doesn’t mean I see the place in purely economic terms. Despite the high cost of living I love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere else. The same is true for immigrants.
As for it being a sign that there are far too many immigrants living in London this is a ridiculous claim. Immigration is a good thing and London needs much more of it. Immigrants work hard, boost productivity, and pay taxes. Immigration is just about the only thing propping up the economy and we’d all be much poorer without it.
Remittances themselves are a lifeline to the poorest people on the planet. For example, approximately one billion people rely on remittances. The overwhelming proportion of the money sent home is spent on food, housing, and schooling. Remittances not only help people to survive but also to improve their life chances and get an education, and escape poverty.
Money sent home by immigrants is also vitally important for less economically developed countries. More than 70 countries around the world are dependent on remittances for at least 4 per cent of their GDP with the money being used to fund poverty relief programmes, sanitation, health, and education.
Remittances are also good for UK taxpayers. It is right that the government is generous and supports the world’s poorest people and helps their economies to develop. However, international aid is obviously costly and there are legitimate concerns with where some of the money goes and what it is spent on. Remittances mean that money gets directly into the hands of those who need it so that our government can spend less money. The international aid bill would be much higher were it not for remittances.
Advocates of reducing immigration should actually support remittances. While I would be in favour of workers and students being able to bring their families with them, this is an unpopular opinion. Remittances mean that immigrants do not need to bring their dependents with them but can still provide for them and give them a better life.
We should in fact marvel at the fact that there are so many adverts from different companies for international money transfer. Remittances are complex and often costly but companies competing with each other and using innovative technology have helped to simplify things and keep costs low. Not only are these companies providing an essential service, they are also creating jobs and paying taxes which again benefits London and the rest of the UK.
It is a myth that migrants are sending all of their money home. The vast majority of it is spent in London and so helps to boost the local economy. And either way, any money earnt in the UK is subject to UK taxes, and as a result, helps fund all of the parts of the state we rely on.