Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BRITISH BANKS PUT THE SQUEEZE ON EXPATS



British Banks are doing their best to get rid of customers who are UK citizens but resident overseas.  There are about 5 to 6 million who fit that category, of whom about 800,00 or so are believed to live elsewhere in the EU.   
Instance:- Santander Bank UK  summarily and without prior notice cancelled Debit Cards.  In a subsequent letter they maintained that they were not going to replace Debit Cards because of the high risk of interception and the likelihood of fraudulent use 'in your country'
People challenged this position by writing to the CEO of Santander UK who passed the issue to an Executive Complaints Department for adjudication.  In the event, the person doing the review came down on the side of the customers, and some have received replacement cards by courier with the promise of PIN numbers to follow.  The reviewer also commented that although the policy had been adopted thanks to some document or another that was circulated to all banks at the end of last year, the policy has now changed and (certainly in the case of Greece) the phrase 'your country' has been removed from the list.
In an interesting twist, however, when speaking to the reviewer he said that the bank had 'made a mistake' in allowing people overseas to continue operating their accounts and in the official letter following the review is the passage 'It is also stipulated in the general Terms and Conditions of your account, that we are a U.K. based bank and do not facilitate customers who live outside the U.K.' 
This last line is the crux of the matter.  As expats will know, it is difficult if not impossible for expats who don't have a UK address to open a UK bank account, change an existing account for a better one, get a credit card etc.  In some cases, private pension providers will only put money into a UK bank account. 

N.B. The EU has four basic 'freedoms' core to the existence and continuation of the
UNION. One is the freedom of movement of SERVICES and CAPITAL
But no constraints exist on banks to honour these principles!
The Competition and Marketing Authority in the UK is currently looking at the way in which banks operate Personal Current Accounts (their deadline for submissions is 17th September) so one must write to them at
AND register any concerns you have over your own personal situation.  The more people who complain, the more likely the matter will be taken seriously.  Hopefully, the CMA will remind banks of their obligations, as operators in the UK of the UK 's membership of the EU and the need to allow unfettered movement of money as well as people and goods throughout the EU at least! "
In all our interests please react, write as above and re-circulate.

As an additional note -I add the UK banks should pay interest gross and thus one can avoid UK tax - Santander has refused this on one occasion known to me. 
To obtain Form R105 to obtain interest without tax deducted at source. Helpful if one is not required to complete a UK tax return.
  I am grateful to a correspondent for the above information.
** Another reason why the expats should have the vote!
Unless this following petition FOR REPRESENTATION in Parliament gets another 7,000 signatures within the month till September 2014– it will fail!   http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/55085