Industry enables families fleeing Ukraine gain access to banking facilities in UK

From the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine until the end of June, the UK has welcomed 86,000 Ukrainian nationals to take refuge in the country. The financial services industry has provided significant support to assist Ukrainian refugees who had fled to the country, opening more than 34,714 basic bank accounts.

The UK banking sector has taken steps to ensure that Ukrainian families living in the UK can open bank accounts without difficulty and organisations have implemented changes to policies and processes to assist people who are suffering as a result of the invasion.

Updating customer-facing information

By providing translated copies of their customer materials and translating their web pages, UK Finance members have made sure that refugees have access to support information and guidance.

Adjusting their policies and procedures

Many refugees were forced to leave their homes abruptly as a result of the invasion, and many arrived in the UK without all of the identification documents that firms typically require. To combat this, firms expanded the range of acceptable identification documents and, in some exceptional cases, have been willing to accept passports that are no longer valid.

The families who sought refuge in the UK are largely mothers accompanied by their children who need to be able to receive money from and transfer money to members of their family who are still in Ukraine. As a result, some firms have agreed to refund and waive fees on international money transfers between the UK and Ukraine.

Homes for Ukraine
As mentioned in a  recent blog from our Mortgages team, financial services providers have waived the terms and conditions of their mortgage products that would prevent UK mortgage customers from participating in the ‘Homes for Ukraine Scheme’.

Supporting their employees

In addition to the banking services support offered to Ukrainian refugees, the industry has acknowledged that there is need for an increase in mental wellbeing support within their organisations. Firms have set up employee assistance helplines and arranged professional counselling for colleagues who have friends or family that have and continue to be impacted by the conflict.

Donating to charities

The industry has raised funds for multiple not-for-profit organisations to support humanitarian relief efforts including the Disasters Emergency Committee, Code your Future, Refugees at Home, British Red Cross Fund and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Firms also partnered with charities such as World Vision UK, providing 300 families with shelter, blankets, warm food, emergency clean water and medical supplies.

The banking sector has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping Ukrainian refugees, UK Finance has provided a high-level overview of this support to the UN FAST Initiative which has commissioned a review of the international community’s response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis and the impacts on Financial Inclusion.  

UK Finance members will continue to review their policies and processes to ensure that all individuals seeking refuge in the UK have access to the banking services they need and are receiving good outcomes.

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