Day #47, Red Tape

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August 31, 2016

It was pay day today.

But I can’t touch that money, cuz I don’t have a UK bank account yet. I got the pay slip though, so I know how much I will get paid for August when I do get paid.

That’s something I don’t really understand in UK (and in France too).

When a foreigner comes to live in UK all alone, they need to find a place to stay, need to open a bank account, need to find a job etc etc. Finding a job doesn’t have a document problem, but you can’t get paid until you have a UK bank account. Looking for a flat itself isn’t a problem either, but again you can’t have tenancy agreement if you don’t have a UK bank account, unless you can pay 6-months rent upfront at least. But who has that amount of money in cash? You can pay by foreign credit card of your name, but they charge 3% of the amount for paying by credit card. And if you have already closed all bank accounts and cancelled every credit card in another country before moving to England? Then you are in trouble. Opening a bank account in UK and in France is real pain in the arse. You need a proof of address to open one, which means electricity bill or water bill or home phone of your name. I am not sure if a tenancy agreement is good enough. Alternatively, you can use National Insurance number, but from the moment of application of NI number it takes at least 6 weeks to get the number and you need to stay in one address until you get this number because they send you the number by post. Why is it so hard to just have a bank account? Does it cost all these banks too much to give everyone an account each? Why are they worried about fraud by opening an account to someone without proof of address? I don’t get it.

So, it’s basically vicious circle. You can’t have one if you don’t have the other, and vice versa.

What could we do? It’s exactly my case but fortunately I can pay the rent upfront with my mom’s credit card (and of course I need to go through all the paperwork of my mom’s status to use her credit card), but if you don’t have any solution like this? Can’t settle down here in UK and are forced to leave? Maybe that’s why many immigrants work in industries where you can get paid in cash (if there is any) in order to survive? And stay in a shared flat where you pay the rent in cash without tenancy agreement, taking a risk of not being protected by law if anything happens?

We need a solution to this. It costs every new comer too much energy and stress.

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