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Home Office ‘demonising’ illegal immigrants by shutting down bank accounts in new crackdown | Politics News

Illegal immigrants will have their bank accounts shut down in a new crackdown by the Home Office – who have been accused of “demonising” asylum seekers.

The Home Office announced it began sharing data with the financial sector on Thursday so it can refuse to open new bank accounts and close existing accounts of people who are in the UK illegally.

It said making it difficult for illegal migrants to access financial services is “an important tool to help deter illegal migration” as it prevents them from working illegally or using the benefits system.

Human rights charity Amnesty International UK accused the government of using private companies to impose its “hugely damaging, immigration policy”.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty’s refugee and migrant rights director, told Sky News: “This is one of many ways the government has co-opted private bodies and civil society into its miserable, and often hugely damaging, immigration policy.

“It is part of an exercise in socially excluding and isolating a mass of people regardless of their individual circumstances – including where those culpable for why people are in these circumstances are human traffickers, other abusers and even the Home Office.

“It’s clear ministers do not care about who they harm or how because they’ve sold themselves to whipping up suspicion and even hate by constantly demonising migrants to excuse their woeful mismanagement of the immigration system.”

Banks will not be required to check customers’ documents for their migration status but the Home Office will share details of illegal migrants and banks can then check their personal current account holders against the list.

Anybody with outstanding immigration applications or appeals will not be affected, the government added.

The initiative is part of the government’s push to curb the number of migrants coming to the UK.

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Why asylum seekers are ditching their claims

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

“As the prime minister has set out, we are committed to going further and faster to prevent the abuse of our laws and borders.

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“Illegal working causes untold harm to our communities, cheating honest workers of employment and defrauding the public purse.

“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.”

Read more:
Starmer says Sunak has ‘lost a grip’ on party after MP lobbying sting
Home Office confirms plan to house asylum seekers on giant barge

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from the RNLI Dover Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023.
A group of migrants arrived in Dover on Thursday

Banks will only close accounts when the Home Office has made further checks to ensure the person is still in the UK without permission to stay.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially announced the plan in December 2022 to re-start data sharing as part of the government’s approach to tackling illegal working and immigration.

The government announced on Wednesday it plans to house more than 500 asylum seekers on a barge in Dorset, with the local council and Tory MP considering legal action to stop it from going ahead in the beauty spot.

Lloyds to close 66 branches this winter – full list of those shutting | Business News

Lloyds Banking Group has announced it will close 66 branches this winter.

Between October and January, 48 Lloyds Bank branches and 18 Halifax branches will shut – the latest in a broad trend of big banks quitting the high street.

It comes just two months after the lender announced plans to shut 28 branches between August and November.

Russell Galley, director of consumer relationships at Lloyds Banking Group said: “Our customers have more choice than ever in how they bank with us.

“As our customers do more online, visits to some branches have fallen by as much as 85% over the last five years.

“Alongside our digital, online and telephone services, we’ll continue to invest in our branches, but they need to be in the right places, where they’re well-used.”

Lloyds said there will be no compulsory or voluntary redundancies, with staff able to move to other branches or another part of the business.

According to trade union, Unite, more than 5,000 bank and building society branches have closed since 2015.

But Lloyds insists it has 19.1 million online customers and 15.6 million app users, showing the increasing popularity of digital banking.

It has also promised that all of the branches set to close have at least one free ATM within half a mile, and a Post Office within 1.1 miles.

Once all the announced closures are complete, there will be 646 Lloyds Bank, 510 Halifax and 165 Bank of Scotland branches remaining.

The branches due to close between October and January are:

Lloyds, Bromyard
Lloyds, Chigwell
Lloyds, Catterick Garrison
Lloyds, Malvern Link
Lloyds, Redruth
Lloyds, Lutterworth
Lloyds, Palmers Green
Lloyds, Cheadle
Lloyds, Lytham St Annes
Lloyds, New Ollerton
Lloyds, Paternoster Sq, London
Lloyds, Earls Court Rd, London

Lloyds, Leadenhall St, London
Lloyds, Axminster
Lloyds, Barton upon Humber
Lloyds, Belper
Lloyds, Intake, Sheffield
Lloyds, The Moor, Sheffield
Lloyds, Tilehurst, Reading
Lloyds, New Romney
Lloyds, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Lloyds, Weoley Castle, Birmingham
Lloyds, Billericay
Lloyds, Immingham

Lloyds, Tonbridge
Lloyds, Edgware Rd, Paddington, London
Lloyds, Notting Hill Gate, London
Lloyds, Sandbach
Lloyds, West Wickham
Lloyds, Darlaston
Lloyds, Purley
Lloyds, Aldridge
Lloyds, Rothbury
Lloyds, Wootton Bassett
Lloyds, Guisborough
Lloyds, Cheddar

Lloyds, Cinderford
Lloyds, Cleobury Mortimer
Lloyds, Holyhead
Lloyds, Wallingford
Lloyds, Bishop’s Waltham
Lloyds, Helston
Lloyds, Looe
Lloyds, Slaithwaite
Lloyds, Welshpool
Lloyds, Pwllheli
Lloyds, Caldicot
Lloyds, Llandrindod Wells

Halifax, High Holborn, London
Halifax, Hitchin
Halifax, Ripon
Halifax, Stowmarket
Halifax, Newry
Halifax, Whitchurch
Halifax, Dorking
Halifax, Mitcham
Halifax, Retford

Halifax, Tiverton
Halifax, Tottenham Ct Rd, London
Halifax, Windsor
Halifax, Stroud
Halifax, Ruislip
Halifax, Birmingham
Halifax, Rawtenstall
Halifax, Coleraine
Halifax, Warminster