June 23. 2024. 12:49

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People suspected of living illegally in UK to have bank accounts shut down

The UK government will restart banking checks on accounts opened by people suspected to be living in the UK illegally in an effort to deter illegal migration, the Home Office announced on Thursday.

On Tuesday, data sharing with the financial sector began, which will make it more difficult for irregular migrants to access financial services by preventing people from working illegally and profiting from services they are not entitled.

Identifying an unlawful migrant’s current account may also provide “evidence of illegal working, helping identify and stamp this out,” the Home Office said in a press release on Thursday, adding that bank account closures will only take place when the Home Office has made a further check to ensure that the customer is still in the UK without permission to stay.

This policy was implemented in January 2018 but was suspended a few months later following the Windrush Scandal, which concerns people who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and – in at least 83 cases – wrongly deported by the Home Office.

“Access to key banking services, including current accounts, is crucial in aiding those here unlawfully to gain a foothold in British society,” said Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

“Only those known to be here unlawfully or those who have absconded from immigrational control will have their details shared, with robust safeguards in place to prevent wrongful account closures,” he added.

Human rights organisation Amnesty condemned this decision, warning that people “with good claims and even rights” to be in the UK could be prevented from banking by the measure, The Guardian reported.

(Sofia Stuart Leeson | EURACTIV.com)