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British expats warned leading bank is about to close all accounts

NewsBritish expats warned leading bank is about to close all accounts

A leading bank is to close the bank accounts of all British expats in a decision which could leave some customers unable to access their pensions or savings.

Barclays Bank said British people living overseas would no longer be able to hold a Barclays UK current or savings account.

This follows a review of the bank’s international offerings which it started in 2021.

Following the decision, it has now written to affected customers giving them six months to react to the decision.

Wealthy expats reportedly have the option of opening a global account with Barclays, but they need to keep at least £100,000 in the account to avoid a monthly charge of £40.

In a statement, a Barclays spokesperson said UK products are designed for customers living in Britain.

In response, the Financial Conduct Authority said Barclay’s decision was a commercial one and that banks are allowed to set their own rules on customers.

Several customers have already expressed outrage at the decision including Professor David Barker, 89, who moved from London to Australia in 1988.

Professor Barker was shocked when he and his wife received a letter from Barclays in April. He was told that they would be able to re-register at their daughter’s UK address.

However, earlier this week he received a phone call explaining that the advice he had been given was wrong and his account would be closed.

He told the Telegraph: “They seem absolutely determined to get rid of our account.

“We are concerned about the way Barclays is handling it. I couldn’t believe that we would get a cold call telling us we would be debanked.”

He added that the account was the basis of the family finances and that they had to move all the money out of their accounts by November 24.

According to data, there are more than one million Britons currently living in Australia.

The move from Barclays follows similar actions by rival banks. In 2021, Lloyds Banking Group told 13,000 expats based in Europe that their accounts in Britain would be closed.

Under the changes, people with cash ISAs and fixed-rate bonds would be able to keep their accounts if they lived in Slovakia, the Netherlands, Italy, or Estonia.

The same rule applies to loan and mortgage holders in the UK wing of the bank, but some existing home loan customers won’t be able to remortgage after the end of their current term.

A spokesperson for Barclays said: “We will no longer be offering personal current or savings accounts to retail customers with addresses registered with us outside of the United Kingdom, subject to limited exceptions. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and explain the next steps they need to take.”

A spokesperson for the FCA added: “Banks may set their own requirements on country of residence for account holders and must comply with local law and regulation when serving customers outside the UK.

“Whether or not banks decide to extend services to customers outside of the UK is a commercial decision for them, but we expect them to treat their customers fairly, comply with equalities legislation, and provide adequate notice to the customer if they decide to close their account.

“Customers who feel they have had their accounts closed unfairly have the right to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.”

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