MP wins government backing for financial support project

Jun 03, 2020

Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North.

LOBBYING by a Milton Keynes MP has persuaded the UK government to take a global lead in supporting diaspora communities working in the UK to keep sending their money home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The UK and Switzerland have announced a global project to make sure diaspora communities around the world can continue to send financial support to their families in developing countries.

The joint call highlighted the urgent need for people to be able to continue accessing money transfer services and for governments to make sure those funds reach those reliant on this support.

Both the UK and Switzerland are also urging countries to support greater access to digital remittance services and to declare remittances an essential financial service. 

Milton Keynes has one of the largest Somalian communities in the UK. Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North,  raised the issue early last month after the Somalian community voiced its concerns as the majority of money transfer retail shops shut in response to the lockdown and those that were open were unable to ship cash to their home country. 

Mr Everitt called on the government to help Somalis who were attempting to send money home – many of whom are key workers – by supporting money transfer companies access digital bank accounts. The ‘big four’ UK banks should show flexibility during the public health crisis, he said. 

Oxfam recently warned of a triple crisis in Somalia which will push millions into poverty, namely locusts, coronavirus and floods. The fall in money being sent back by the Somali diaspora in the UK, would be devastating for the country. 

Mr Everitt said: “I am pleased the government has taken a lead in trying to ensure global remittance flows can continue to operate despite lockdowns around the world. 

“The coronavirus pandemic means we are all concerned about how our family and friends here and overseas are coping. Many of the diaspora communities in the UK are feeling more and more anxious as they struggle to send money home and the virus spreads.

“This move by the government will be lifesaving for some families in developing countries where coronavirus is making a lack of food and healthcare, and extreme poverty, even worse.”

The World Bank has warned global remittances are projected to decline sharply by about 20% in 2020. 

“While we have many challenges here in the UK, it is important we are helping to prevent fragile economies from facing potential collapse during the pandemic,” said Mr Everitt. “I would still like to see UK banks step up and help money transfer companies secure the bank account services they need during this emergency period.”

The call to action made by the UK and Switzerland was backed the World Bank, the UN Capital Development Fund, UN Development Programme and the International Organisation for Migration. A number of countries have already joined, including Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan.


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