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HSBC opens bank accounts for 150 Afghan settlers

Written by: Emma Lunn
HSBC UK has supported 150 Afghan settlers to open bank accounts since it introduced a change to its account opening procedure last month.

With many Afghan settlers currently living in hotels and temporary accommodation, HSBC will accept a temporary address from a settler when applying for a basic bank account.

In addition, Afghan settlers can provide a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and a Home Office/DWP letter if they are unable to provide any of the standard accepted identification and verification documents.

Afghan settlers are classed as those who have been granted right to reside status under the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme and will receive BRPs on arrival in the UK. They can visit any HSBC UK branch to open a basic bank account, but may need to book an appointment during busy times.

One Afghan settler who has opened a HSBC account is a 43-year-old doctor. He said: “Since arriving to the UK we have all been in a situation we had never thought would actually happen. Leaving our country in a rush and some of us leaving behind our loved ones including children and parents has been very upsetting. The UK is very different to what we are used to and we are now in a position where we need to find jobs and look to the future.

“I had several interviews but as I did not have a bank account they put me on hold. Since I opened my HSBC UK account I have been able to move my life forward. HSBC’s support to me and everyone in my position has been a light at the end of the tunnel. I have now secured a job with the NHS as a doctor which I will be starting in December. Thank you so much for everything you have done for us all.”

Victoria Atkins, minister for Afghan resettlement, said: “Enabling Afghan nationals settling in the UK to have financial independence is crucial to helping them gain stability and rebuild their lives, so I welcome HSBC UK’s support.

“The government works closely with the private, voluntary and community sectors to help people find work, pursue education and integrate into local communities.”

Maxine Pritchard, head of financial inclusion and vulnerability at HSBC UK said: “It’s a sad fact that many people arriving in this country face difficulty accessing our financial system. This can make it harder to build a successful life in the UK – without a bank account individuals cannot claim benefits, or receive wages or pay rent in a secure way.”

HSBC said it’s committed to enabling financial access for groups who would otherwise be excluded from banking. The bank has opened 1,726 accounts for people experiencing homelessness as part of it’s No Fixed Address programme in partnership with Shelter and other charities.

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