Campaign groups condemn immigration checks on bank account holders

Friday, 12 January, 2018

The Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN), Global Justice Now and No Borders in Banks condemn the Home Office’s introduction of immigration checks on bank current account holders, which came into effect today.

We are deeply concerned by the adding of another element to the already pernicious and established ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. We believe the measures will have harmful and discriminatory consequences including:

  • Current accounts being frozen or closed down incorrectly, due to a high error rate in the Home Office data used for the checks
  • Vulnerable migrants – already at heightened risk of exploitation due to their immigration status - being denied safe access to their money, and forced to rely on black financial markets and cash
  • These same migrants being left unable to meet their most basic needs, such as for food and housing. Accessing such services is a right for everyone, no matter your immigration status.
  • Account closures being be felt disproportionately by people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, given the links between immigration status and ethnicity

We are also worried by the lack of clarity around an appeals process for affected individuals. Moreover, given the Home Office’s notorious track record in processing complaints, we fear any process eventually established will be poorly run and lengthy. This will further compound the issues raised above.

It is also important to note that the banking sector itself – including the CEO of RBS and a former board member of TSB – has expressed concerns about implementing the checks. With such clear opposition from all sides, we demand the UK government ends this unethical, harmful and discriminatory policy immediately.

The Migrants’ Rights Network and No Borders in Banks are keen to hear from anyone affected by these changes. All information will be treated in strictest confidence. You can contact us at:

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