UK banks and building societies tasked with clamping down on illegal immigrants with account checks
Banks and building societies across the UK have been tasked with carrying out checks on all current account holders starting in January next year, as the Government ramps up efforts to create a hostile environment for illegal immigrants.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said the system was part of its ongoing work to tackle illegal migration and is intended to be “fair to people who are here legally, but firm with those who break the rules”.
“Everyone in society can play their part in tackling illegal migration,” they added.
It falls under the Immigration Act of last year and will target people who have overstayed their visas, those who have not been granted asylum and foreign national offenders who are facing deportation.
Anyone who is identified as an illegal migrant will be denied access to banking services, making it harder for them to live in the UK.
It is estimated that there are more than 65 million personal current accounts currently being used across the country and the Home Office said that it estimates about 6,000 accounts would be identified in the first year.
The system, first reported by The Guardian, is likely to be criticised by welfare campaigners in light of the Home Office’s recent record of targeting migrants who have a right to be in Britain.
The Independent reported last month that the Home Office had mistakenly informed approximately 100 people that they are to be deported from the UK.
A letter, informing recipients that they were “liable to be detained”, was issued in error, it emerged.
Under the Immigration Act 2014, status checks are required by anyone wanting to open a current count with a bank or building society.
Analysis of official government data shows there were 26 per cent more enforced removals of EU nationals in the first three months of this year than during the same period last year.
Almost 5,000 EU citizens have been deported from Britain in the last 12 months, which marks the highest since current records began and an increase of 14 per cent in the last year alone.
Human rights campaigners earlier this month told The Independent that many of the removals are illegal.
Labour has called the figures “disgraceful” and said they could make Brexit talks more difficult.