The Value of Remittance: How UK Migrants are Supporting Their Families from Afar

United Kingdom By Steve Wong Jul 6, 2023

Supporting family and friends can be one of the most important and rewarding experiences in life. Whether you are a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or friend, looking after one another is one of the most basic and fundamental of all human traits.

Providing for friends and family can take many forms, from emotional and practical support and advice, to providing financial stability for loved ones. For many migrants who move to the UK, being able to support their family by sending money is one of the primary reasons why they choose to relocate; to help provide, and to offer a better life for their loved ones.

Our new report – The Value of Remittance – looks to shed light on the real-world impact of remittance payments and how migrants and global money transfer is helping to make a difference to the lives of families across the world.

What is remittance?

Remittance’ originates from the word ‘remit’, which means ‘to send back’. A remittance is essentially a transfer of funds between two parties. While it can encompass various types of monetary transfers, it typically describes sending money to another country. This usually involves sending funds to family members living overseas, whether as a gift, or a contribution towards household bills.

Remittance payments are a vital lifeline to many

Our research found that for many families of migrants living in the UK, remittance payments are a crucial helping hand that can have an immeasurable impact on their quality of life. Our study found that 2 in 5 (40%) migrants living in the UK believe their friends or family would be in poverty if it wasn’t for them sending regular payments back home and that just less than half (46%) state that members of their family would not be able to attend school or further education.

Our study, which surveyed migrants living in the UK, demonstrates the positive affect that remittance payments have on families around the world. We found that 70% of migrants believe that their families’ quality of life has improved vastly due to the money that they send and 64% believe that their family and friends have more opportunities in life as a result of their remittance payments.

How much do migrants send home?

On average, migrants were found to send 22% of their annual income home as remittance.

What are remittances used for by families of migrants living in the UK?

The primary reasons stated were being able to support their families’ healthcare (61% of respondents), cost of groceries (59%), accommodation (39%) and education (38%) fees. 92% of migrants were found to have sent money to family back home in the past 12 months and 55% of migrants stated that being able to send money to family back home was a key factor in their decision to move to the UK.

The most common uses of remittance amongst families of migrants:

  1. Healthcare (61%)
  2. Groceries (59%)
  3. Accommodation (39%)
  4. Education (38%)
  5. Paying off family debt (28%)
  6. Transport costs (20%)
  7. Supporting a family member’s business (19%)
  8. Paying towards family childcare (18%)
  9. Paying towards family wedding costs (9%)

How is remittance being used by friends of migrants living in the UK?

Many migrants were also found to send remittance to their friends too, with the primary reasons being to support with the cost of groceries (53%), education (48%) and healthcare (46%). 48% of migrants stated that their friends rely on the money that they send.

The most common uses of remittance amongst friends of migrants:

  1. Groceries (53%)
  2. Education (48%)
  3. Healthcare (46%)
  4. Accommodation (43%)
  5. Supporting a family member’s business (30%)
  6. Paying towards childcare (27%)
  7. Paying off a friend’s debt (27%)
  8. Paying towards wedding costs (22%)
  9. Transport costs (14%)

The pressure of providing back home

Our study found that amongst a global cost of living crisis, many migrants are struggling with the pressure of providing for their families and friends back home. Over half (53%) of migrants stated that due to the rising cost of living, they have had to work extra hours or have started another job to continue sending remittance payments, with 55% saying that they have had to reduce the amount of remittance that they send due to rising living costs. Two in five (37%) reported that they were concerned about the possibility of losing their job in the next 12 months and the impact this will have on their families back home.

Top 10 countries migrants living in the UK are sending money to:

  1. India – how to send money to India
  2. Pakistan – how to send money to Pakistan
  3. Nigeria – how to send money to Nigeria
  4. France – how to send money to France
  5. Germany – how to send money to Germany
  6. China – how to send money to China
  7. Poland – how to send money to Poland
  8. Kenya – how to send money to Kenya
  9. Philippines – how to send money to the Philippines
  10. Spain – how to send money to Spain

(Source: KNOMAD/World Bank Bilateral Remittance Matrix)

Our research found that this pressure is having a profound strain on the mental wellbeing of migrants living in the UK. Half (53%) state that the responsibility of having to support their family or friends can sometimes be too much to bear and 61% of migrants say that they regularly make sacrifices in their own life to ensure that they are able to continue sending money to their friends or family. 42% also reported that they often feel lonely, suggesting many migrants are prioritising work over building their own personal relationships.

Despite this, nearly three-quarters (71%) of migrants of state that the fact that they are able to send money to their friends or family gives their life a sense of purpose and 59% of migrants say that without having moved to the UK they may not have been able to support their friends or family financially at all.

Trusting the right provider with your transfer

Choosing the right money transfer service is crucial when sending remittance, as it can make all the difference in ensuring that hard-earned money reaches family and friends quickly and securely. The thought of their loved ones being left without the support they need is devastating for many migrants, which is why selecting a trustworthy provider carries immense weight for many.

We asked what factors are most important when it comes to transferring money, and found out the following:

  1. Security of transfer
  2. Speed of transfer
  3. Cost
  4. Convenience of sending money
  5. Being able to do it online
  6. Ease of using the service
  7. Convenience of receiving the money
  8. Being able to do it in person


Bob Rupczynski, Chief Marketing Officer at Western Union says:

“This research highlights the crucial role that remittance payments play in supporting families and communities around the world.

The money that migrants send provides an essential lifeline for their families and friends back home and at Western Union we recognise the immense impact that these payments have, providing access to basic needs, healthcare, education, and opportunities for a better life.

We are proud to help facilitate these important connections and to help power people’s pursuits all over the world. It’s our guiding mission to make finance accessible to all, so that we can all achieve financial prosperity, wherever we are.”

For more information on international money transfer, please visit our advice page or find a location near you.