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    Thursday, May 4, 2023

    African Immigrants Struggle to Pay Bills in UK as Inflation Soars – Report

    A new report has revealed that African immigrants in the United Kingdom are struggling to pay bills as they are most affected by the persistent rising cost of living crisis.

    The report published on Wednesday by an African communications service community disclosed that many African residents in the UK suffer to afford basic needs such as food, housing and energy.

    This has forced the African Diasporan community to seek financial support as the report said inflation upsets the economy.

    With over 1,000 Africans surveyed, Robert Ekat, Lead Researcher, at BHM said, “The findings reveal the stark reality of the financial struggles faced by this community, with job security and monthly bills being the top concerns”.

    “This report is critical as it highlights the impact of the cost of living crisis on African immigrants. It is a deliberately qualitative report with factual data to help us comprehend the practical impact of rising costs on individuals and communities,” adds BHM Founder, Ayeni Adekunle.

    “It ultimately adds to the existing body of research on the impact of the cost of living crisis on different communities in the UK and we are enthusiastic that researchers, policymakers, and organisations will find the data useful in developing future policies and actions for the betterment of the African community.”

    The report further said, “Almost 60% of those surveyed have turned to family for financial support in recent times, while 44.5% admit to borrowing to pay for everyday needs. As the crisis bites deeper, several participants say they have had to cut down on essentials to survive.”

    According to the report, at least 28% of respondents in the African expatriate community say they struggle to afford gas monthly, 69.4% plan to reduce the use of power, and 47% of participants have had to miss meals so they could pay bills.

    The emigration of Africans to the UK has seen an enormous rise over the past year. According to the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory, net migration was unusually high in 2022 as rises in temporary work and study migration post-pandemic have contributed to the surge.

    Despite significant contributions to the UK economy, the report showed that 84% of the respondents in the African immigrant community do not claim any form of financial support from the UK government. This is a clear contrast compared to other groups like citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and the UK who have access to benefits like Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to name a few.

    About 48% of respondents revealed they feel worse off than they were a year ago. The African community’s experiences revolve around critical challenges and concerns including lack of job security, unaffordable housing, and mounting debt.

    Since the start of the pandemic, at least 25% of respondents have had to opt out of their workplace pension, risking retirement security. The grim situation has necessitated an urgent need for attention, which has informed BHM UK’s research.

    Back home in their native countries, many African diasporans are pressured by the black tax. 

    According to the report, Aishat, a 36-year-old store manager, said, “I am worried that after a while, I won’t be able to send money back home to my family and take care of my most mundane needs.”

    Over 77% of participants in the report revealed family and friends expect some support, thereby intensifying the desperation for survival. This was reflected in the admittance by almost 59% of respondents that the current economic situation in the UK is affecting their mental and physical health.

    Enitan Kehinde, General Manager, BHM UK, said, “We are delighted to inform public discourse and help raise awareness about the economic and psychological issues facing Africans in the UK. This is necessary for us to demonstrate increased understanding, empathy and support for these individuals and communities and to inspire practicable solutions.”

    With many Africans seeking to migrate to the UK in the coming months, BHM UK’s report on the cost of living crisis critically expounds on the experiences of African expatriates and the interventions to embark upon, especially by government and organisations targeted at the African community.

    It’s important for the UK to provide some support to Africans. “Apart from school fees paid by immigrants to British schools, the UK gains from Visa Fees, NHS payments, Rent, Economic productivity, Income taxes, etc.,” a report by SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research and strategic communications firm states.

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