Immigrants to pay cash bonds to ensure they leave

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has outlined some radical reforms to immigration this morning. Among them is a proposal that people travelling to the UK from outside the EU to work or study on a temporary basis will have to pay over a cash lump sum. They'll only get it back when they leave.

So why is the government doing this, and who will it affect?
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Why?

Clegg said that the system was 'in disarray' as a result of the previous government's policies. He pointed out that by not monitoring who was arriving and leaving, the system was overwhelmed by the number of people coming to the UK on a temporary basis and then just staying.

He said: "Visa overstayers are the major part of UK Border Agency's enforcement caseload."

As people travel more, for work, for holidays, you have more people coming into the country for temporary periods and so you need to find ways to make sure they leave."

Solution

His proposed solution is one of security bonds for immigrants from outside the EU. The idea is that those who come to the UK will have to leave a lump sum on deposit, which will be held by the government. When they leave, the money will be repaid. The idea is to give them an incentive not to overstay their visa. According to the BBC, this bond is likely to vary according to circumstances, but will be in four figures.

The Independent said that immigrants from countries which are considered the most likely to want to stay could be charged several thousand pounds.

Clegg emphasised: "The bonds would need to be well targeted - so that they don't unfairly discriminate against particular groups."

How

At the moment the idea is in its infancy. It is merely a proposal put to the Home Office, for a pilot scheme by the end of the year.

It's not the first time it has been on the table, as the previous Labour government had proposed security bonds of £3,000 - although it never carried the idea through to fruition.

The system is already in place in Australia, where the bonds range from £3,500 to £10,000, and depend partly on where immigrants are travelling from - and therefore how high they think the risk is that the individual will want to stay. The bond is usually forfeited if the individual stays longer than their original visa states.

Elsewhere they work slightly differently. In Singapore, for example, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will decide whether you need to pay a security deposit when you apply for your visa. These are usually around £650.

Clegg also announced an increase in cash penalties for employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. At the moment the maximum fine is £10,000 for each worker - but Clegg said that this limit should be doubled - and called for the Home Secretary to revisit it.

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Immigrants to pay cash bonds to ensure they leave

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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