Rushanara Ali urged the Government in a debate in Parliament to intensify its efforts to find a lasting solution to the challenges faced by those giving remittance to families and friends overseas.
The debate comes one year on from the successful Save Remittance Giving campaign led by Rushanara. The vital lifeline of remittance giving – which sees around £15 billion per year flow from families in the UK to some of the poorest countries in the world – came under immense threat last year after Barclays Bank’s announced the decision to terminate all banking facilities for community-led remittance agencies in the UK in June 2013.
As a result of this decision, Rushanara led the successful campaign which mobilised local people, community-led businesses and major NGOs such as Oxfam. Double-Olympic medallist, Mo Farah, whose charitable foundation in Somalia was affected, also gave his backing to the campaign, which culminated in Rushanara delivering a petition with 25,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street calling for urgent action on the issue. To date, the campaign has attracted in excess of 122,000 signatures across the UK.
The debate focused on the steps taken by the Government to create a framework within which people can remit money to different parts of the world. Rushanara made reference to the:
- progress of the Action Group for Cross-Border Remittances, led by the Treasury Ministers and officials across Government departments;
- clarity of the advice and guidance provided by Government for community-led small and medium-sized businesses;
- efforts made to ensure people can transfer money back to target countries.
Focusing on Government efforts to secure a ‘safer-corridor pilot’ to guarantee remittance giving to high-risk destinations such as Somalia, Rushanara said:
“This is not about small amounts of money going to individuals, although that is important; it is about the collective effort that citizens make to support family members and fellow citizens across the world, particularly in the poorest countries.”
“This is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that the pilot involving World Bank officials, Treasury officials and others, if it is effective, provides a tool to get money safely into post-conflict countries without banking systems. If the pilot is successful in Somalia, it might be extended elsewhere where money flows are happening, but we are not clear how, and where they could be fuelling terrorism and other activities that are extremely dangerous not only for those countries but for us. In that context, I hope that the Minister will seize this big opportunity for her, through her role and her brief, to develop a tool that could save millions of lives and improve security in our country.”