At Treasury questions in the House of Commons, the Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire raised with me the difficulty some refugees have in opening a bank account. In particular, a form of identification provided by the Home Office to those here legally was not being accepted by some high street bank branches.
The issue had not previously been flagged to me, so I offered to meet to see how we could solve the problem. Thangham and I met at the Treasury to discuss the issue in more detail, and then I wrote to and liaised with UK Finance, who represent the high street banks, to request that clarification be given to bank branches so that refugees are able to open an account with this ID, alongside other anti money laundering checks that apply to all customers.
Stephen Jones, their Chief Executive of UK Finance, the body representing banks, has now confirmed that the form of identification – Biometric Residency Permits – are not a concern.. I am grateful that he is now arranging a meeting with senior bank staff to ensure a consistent approach moving forward. As such in future refugees should find a greater awareness of this form of identification when offered to branch staff.