Migrants who send money home are more likely to give than UK households, says report

The findings indicate strong relationship between remittance giving and donations to British charities, says Cathy Pharoah, co-author of the research

Cathy Pharoah
Cathy Pharoah

Migrants who send money overseas are more likely than other UK households to give to British charities, according to new research by Cass Business School’s Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy.

Researchers at the CCGP examined patterns of sending money abroad, such as to family members, and charitable giving among UK migrant and minority communities.

They found that 42 per cent of households that send money overseas also give to British charities, compared with 29 per cent of the general UK population.

The report, Giving Back to Communities of Residence and Origin, is based on research into the spending habits of 63,033 households and interviews with 32 migrants who send money overseas.

Researchers found that 5 per cent of UK households send money overseas. They send an average of £31 a week, or 3.9 per cent of household spending.

The report says that more than 10 per cent of households that send money overseas are at risk of poverty and survive on a typical weekly budget of less than £166 for two adults.  

Cathy Pharoah, co-author of the research and professor of charity funding at Cass, said: "The findings indicate a strong relationship between remitting money overseas and donating to UK charities. It cannot be explained simply in terms of the age, educational or spending characteristics of the household involved. A common generosity might be driving all such behaviour."

She said the findings had implications for government policy and its big society concept of trying to empower communities to develop their own local resources at a time of austerity.  

Pharoah said the norms of giving among the UK’s migrant and minority groups provided valuable models for shared community responsibility and direct giving to extended family and community needs.

Migrant communities should be supported in making use of the most tax-efficient ways of supporting good causes at home and abroad, she said.

The World Bank estimated in 2012 that total UK remittance transfers were £15.18bn, which is expected to grow by 8 per cent this year.

In her foreword to the research, Rushanara Ali, the shadow minister for international development, says the growth of the remittance economy has had a positive impact and brought tangible benefits to the developing world. "Remittance giving can help tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality," she said.

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