Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Strains across Europe.

Sometimes I think of Europe as a cat's cradle of elastic bands, with each country (indeed each person) at the junctions of the bands.  The elastic bands are tensioned with political, social and financial forces.  The political forces of each nation are largely contrived and energised by people in power, which includes the higher echelon of 'civil servants'.  Change is not in their interest. Power feeds their spirits; their forces repulse the others.  The social forces of Europe, that is to say the people who oddly enough elect the politicians, nevertheless attract each other whilst the financial forces can twang the other forces and may well arise from powers beyond Europe.  
The unfortunate Briton in Europe has little, and most usually no, political power.  He is forbidden to vote after 15 years outside of his native land.  Socially, he binds with his community of residence but  yet retains strong bonds with his fellow countrymen and family at 'home'. Financially his income (if he is retired) comes from his native land and he may well be taxed there as well as in his land of residence. He may spend his money in several countries.  When he dies, his inheritance is likely to be in confusion.
It would seem that in the nascent power house of Europe someone thinks on these things. 
Eventually some cross-nation sense will need to arise, otherwise the three forces will cause such strains that the whole cat's cradle collapses.  
The nations must have taxes but across Europe taxation is an unholy mess.  This has also contributed to tensioning this cat's cradle of nations.  The social forces pull against the political  forces, and the external financial forces, as has recently been demonstrated is twanging the elastic bands of the PIGS  [Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain] nations and also Britain.
The linked document published on 20 December 2010 on Cross Border Taxation (click here to view)  by the EU outlines the mess.
This blog has elsewhere demonstrated the unfairness  of the Double Taxation Treaty between France and the UK.  The document surveys this as well as many other points.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How the British Government treats its citizens abroad!

The email below sent to the blog, displays the frustration ON THREE COUNTS OF a world weary aging lady.

"It is sods law. I did several years back tried to get a new bank account in the UK as I was not happy with Barclays. I tried HSBC, Co-op, and Nationwide. All of these I have had accounts with. [ 1. Cannot open a bank account in the UK]
I was told that 'you can not open an account without a UK address’, by all of them.
I was astounded as my brother in law had his accounts in Ireland when he lived in the UK and the reverse when he moved to Ireland. It was so long ago I threw the paperwork.
The MP for my old UK constituency is Desmond Swayne.
I don’t suppose he's much interested as I do not live in the UK and cannot vote as I left in 1987. [2. Cannot get proper representation – NO VOTE!]
I find it amazing actually that here, in my immediate area, there are people who get the WFP.
I was told I could not get it.
Funny thing is that the people who do get it, do not have to survive just on the state pension!!!!! [3. NO justice over the WINTER FUEL PAYMENT!]
My bank here previously told me that if I brought my money in by direct debit; I would have no charges.
This turned out to be untrue. One has to have your pension sent direct to your bank here to have no charges. BUT my pension is not enough. You have to have £400 to qualify (per month)
They get you every which way!!!"

Is it not utterly deplorable that the British Government allows this to come about, connives at such disregard for, treats so – an ageing British citizen within EUROPE!
 (Gordon Brown - had he a conscience?  David Cameron - do you care?)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bank Accounts

A correspondent has drawn attention to the following link.

This ‘forum’ location deals with money matters and it has the headline that if you can, in 50 words, state some improvement in money matters for the British Consumer then the three leaders of the main British political parties have promised to consider such proposals.

I have written the following:-

“It should be illegal for any UK based financial institution to refuse to open an account for any British Citizen resident in the European Economic Area on the basis of non-residence in the UK.
The banks impose this restriction giving problems for expatriate pensioners dependent on income in sterling.”

It would be possible for anyone else to add some proposals relating for example to the non-payment of the Winter Fuel Payment to certain expatriates, or to question a review of the payment for health costs for expatriates, or a review of the Double Taxation Convention with France. I fear all these are complicated matters, but it might draw the attention of the politicians to these issues – maybe.

The topic I raise here has been raised before several times. [See Concern 1 via the Index.] Briefly.. British banks will not open an account for you if you do not live in the UK. If you need an account, as you almost certainly do if your income originates in the UK then you are ‘up a gum tree’. It could be that your existing bank has gone bust or it is non-competitive - and therefore you need one!
On a related but somewhat different matter, I have recently been informed that Lloyds TSB wishes to close Bank of Scotland offshore accounts in Jersey. This is a cussed bind for those who have such accounts. It makes movement of monies between on-shore and offshore accounts more tiresome. One may wish to change all accounts to another bank to smooth this procedure. You would not be able to do this because the UK based banks will not open an UK based account for non-residents.
Further, it is not easy for British citizens returning to the UK to open a fully functional account because they cannot demonstrate that they have been resident for some length of time. This even happened to an ex-bank manager!