Saturday, 23 September 2017

Bureaucratic shenaginins!

On the one hand we have Theresa May standing up in Florence and assuring all the Italians currently living and working in the UK that their situation is secure and their rights will be preserved, as will those of all the other EU nationals living in the UK.

On the other hand we have banks being required to check bank accounts to see if they can root out any illegal immigrants. This has led to at least one person who posts things on the Forum for EU residents in the UK to receive a letter from her bank which included the following information:

 "We need to check your permission to be in the UK.

We are currently required to check your immigration status when we open a current account for you. From January 2018, we will also have to conduct these checks on all of your existing current accounts with us. If you no longer have permission to remain in the UK, the UK government may require us to close your current accounts and all other accounts, services, mortgages or loans (including any joint accounts or accounts where you are a signatory or beneficiary) you have or are associated with. If you cannot hold an account or any of these products and we have to close the accounts, we may be forced to delay returning any funds from your accounts to you."

Now, that is hardly friendly and reassuring! Especially when it seems to be a difficult and lengthy process to get the documentation that gives proof of permanent residency. I can imagine the stress caused when the mortgage on your house, the loan you took out to buy a car, your standing orders to the utilities companies and all the other stuff is suddenly in jeopardy. And this stuff applies to joint accounts as well! Most frightening is the last sentence, which talks about possible delays in returning funds to account holders! What!!! How can that be legal?

As ever, this state of affairs will affect ordinary working people far more than it will the rich. No doubt their money is held in international banking businesses. They won't have to worry about how the mortgage and other bills are to be paid. And, besides, they have financial advisers to sort everything out for them.

I know that the banks have not made the laws but they are the ones having to apply them. We have been catching up on the television serialisation of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", which we recorded while we were away in the summer. In an episode we watched the other evening, in a flashback sequence before the whole of their society went dystopian, the female protagonist is seen unable to use her credit card. She goes on to discover that she is no longer able to hold a bank account. She is a woman and women are now unable to have a job or a bank account. The funds in her account will be transferred into her husband's account. She is now dependent on him for everything. (Of course, things go on to get a whole lot worse for her; she must look back nostalgically to being a dependent wife!) This whole business with bank accounts reminds me of that situation.

Mindless bureaucracy will trample over people's feelings and over their lives. Just where is our country going to?

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