How to protect your business after Brexit
Mandie Sewa | 20.02.2019
11.01.2018 Mandie Sewa
The latest Government crackdown relating to illegal immigrants came into force on the 1st of this month. The Immigration Act 2016 implements measures to prevent known illegal immigrants from operating bank accounts by giving the Home Office powers to freeze bank accounts. The measures follow on from the Immigration Act 2014 that prohibited banks from opening new current accounts for illegal migrants.
Checks will need to be made on approximately 70 million current accounts every quarter. The Home Office is expecting the policy to identify 6000 illegal immigrants in the first year. The governments’ overall intention is that the cumulative effect of these measures will discourage illegal immigration.
This government has made repeated claims about its commitment to anti slavery laws, but the ‘hostile environment’ polices it has implemented create a perfect environment for traffickers who demand free labour to pay back debts and accommodation costs; and employers that exploit workers by paying subsidence cash in hand salaries. Vulnerable immigrants will simply be forced out of sight in the economy and have little option but to rely on those who can exploit them, and now control their finances.
The new law tells banks and building societies to direct customers to the Home Office if an error has been made, even when they can show a valid passport or biometric card to prove show their lawful status. As an Immigration Lawyer, my experience of trying to liaise with the Home Office has been very frustrating. Calls, emails and letters are often not answered and even when they are the inconsistencies in the response depending on the day that you make your enquiry!
There is very little recourse to the decision to close an account and with the loss of legal aid people affected will have no access to funds to pay for legal advice.
The Home Office claims that people who are here legally will not be affected but it is suspected that the new policy will result in thousands of legitimate citizens being wrongly identified as illegal immigrants. As a result their bank accounts could also be frozen. I can envisage several names coming up in the checks and as a result, it is inevitable that the wrong names and bank accounts will be frozen. This could lead to people being forced into destitution as they will be unable to paying their rents, mortgages, bills and feed their families.