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Britain needs its amazing migrants

Fintech entrepreneur Michael Kent explains why Britain needs migrants and why government policy and media horror stories will damage the UK’s economy and reputation

Google the word migrant, then click images. What do you see? People packed into boats. People queuing at borders. People in cages.

Words are powerful – just look at what Google has been trained to show you. Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, is a migrant. Do you see his photo on that search results page?

The reality of migration is very different from what news websites and search engines would have you believe. Migrants are some of the most resilient, ingenious and hard-working people in the world.

A 2016 study by Oxford Economics found that the average European migrant will contribute £78,000 more to the British economy during their stay than they will take out in services and benefits. For a non-EU migrant, the net contribution is £28,000. By comparison, the average UK citizen’s lifetime net contribution is zero.

Migrants who arrived in the UK in 2016 – the year the country voted for Brexit – would have made a net contribution of £26.9bn during their stay. Sadly, many have already gone home.

As people queue outside petrol stations for fuel, sit on NHS waiting lists or stare at empty supermarket shelves, the reality of a world without migrants should become clear. Without them, the British economy falters.

In the digital money transfer business, we’ve known this for a long time. Migrants are our customers. They travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to build a life in a country that is sometimes outright hostile to them, even as they contribute more to their new home than they take out of it. They deserve a faster, cheaper and fairer way to send money back to the people they love.

But that’s not what they get from banks and money-transfer shops. The World Bank claims that the average cost of a global money transfer is 7%. That is outrageous in a world where financial technology has made it possible for digital players like Azimo to charge less than 2% and still make a profit.

It is also easy to stereotype the kind of jobs that migrants do. And while it is true that migrant workers over-index in the hospitality, transport and social care sectors, they also represent nearly 25% of all information technology and communications workers, and 20% of all workers in professional and scientific roles.

When migrants leave the country, we don’t just lose nurses and lorry drivers. We lose some of our most innovative minds. Anyone who has tried to run a software company without foreign-born staff will testify to this. Azimo’s own people come from 27 different countries around the world.

So for every demonising headline we read in the tabloid press, for every horror story we hear on social media, for every government policy that targets those who come to these shores to live and work, we must look again at the bigger picture. The story that Google fails to tell. The story of hard-working heroes who do whatever it takes to support the people they love.

That’s why we created the Amazing Migrants advertising campaign, which is now running across the country on billboards, bus stops and in the press. To celebrate the incredible contribution that migrants make to Britain and to their families back home. While newspapers continue to demonise migrants, we’re happy to stand up for our customers and portray them for what they truly are – hard-working heroes.

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