NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage customers affected by coronavirus could defer their loan repayments for up to three months if they are in financial difficulty.
RBS/NatWest said customers’ situations will be looked at on a “case-by-case” basis, and various potential options will be matched to them.
While there is no single “blanket provision”, the help that customers could be offered if their finances are in difficulty includes requesting mortgage and loan repayment deferrals for up to three months.
Customers hit by coronavirus could also apply for increased temporary credit card limits and may be able to close fixed savings accounts to access cash with no early closure charge.
Those struggling to cope may also request an increased debit card cash withdrawal limit of up to £500.
A spokesman for the banks, which are in the same group, said: “We are monitoring the potential impact of coronavirus across all our customers to ensure we can support them appropriately through any period of disruption.
“We have a strong track record in working with our customers who are affected by disruption outside of their control.
“We understand that there may be circumstances where a personal customer may fall into financial difficulty as a result of the impacts of coronavirus, for instance, loss of income.
“We will look to understand each customer’s situation on a case-by-case basis and can offer a number of options to help them manage their finances. We would encourage any customer experiencing financial difficulty to get in touch with us.”
Lloyds Banking Group said that for Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and MBNA customers, there could be payment holidays on mortgages and loans.
Emergency access will be allowed to fixed-term savings products and fees may not be charged for missed payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages.
Vim Maru, group director, retail, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Being there for our customers when they need us is our priority. We are making some temporary changes over the coming weeks, and will be providing individual support to customers who need extra help.”
Nationwide Building Society said short-term support it may consider will include mortgage payment holidays, increased credit card or overdraft limits, penalty-free early access to savings in fixed-term accounts and the removal of interest charges on credit cards and overdrafts.
Sara Bennison, Nationwide’s chief marketing officer, said: “Alongside concerns over contracting the disease, it is natural that people may also start to worry about their finances due to any potential drop in income should they or family fall ill.
“As a mutual, our members are at the heart of what we do, and we stand ready to support them through difficult periods. If they do have concerns, we would encourage them to get in touch sooner rather than later so we can talk them through the options available to them.”
Meanwhile, TSB said its mortgage customers affected by coronavirus may apply for a repayment holiday for up to two months.
TSB savings customers will be able to waive early closure fees on its fixed-rate Isa products and it will allow fixed bond customers to surrender their policies early to gain access to their money.
Credit card customers may request an emergency credit limit increases and current account customers can apply for an increased cash withdrawal limit for up to £500 or more depending on each individual case.
TSB business banking customers should contact TSB if they are affected, the bank said.
Barclays said it will also remove penalty charges so people can access fixed savings accounts early for those impacted by coronavirus and enable customers to apply for a temporary increase on their credit card limit.
A statement from Barclays said: “Any customers suffering hardship as a result of Covid-19 can contact our specialist support colleagues if they are experiencing problems making repayments to their mortgage, overdraft, personal loans or credit cards.
“These customers can also access their fixed savings accounts early without paying any penalty charges.”
Barclays also has a range of potential measures for business customers, including 12-month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000 and increasing overdraft facilities.
Santander also said it would look at each customer’s situation and explore ways to support them depending on their specific circumstances.
The bank’s support for customers includes the option to potentially defer or reduce repayments that are due.
A Santander spokeswoman said: “Santander has a team of experts on hand to support customers who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Anyone who has been affected can talk to us on 0800 9 123 123.”
Last week, trade association UK Finance said banks, building societies and credit card providers understand that some customers may be worried about the effect that contracting the coronavirus could have on their finances.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Lenders are reasonably sympathetic to any illness that affects a borrower’s ability to pay their mortgage, whether it’s coronavirus or something else.
“They may ask for evidence that you are unwell but the message to borrowers, particularly the self-employed who are most likely to be affected in terms of their income, is that any time you are struggling to pay your mortgage, get in touch with your lender.
“Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope the problem will go away – it won’t.”
Downing Street welcomed the move by NatWest and RBS.
“We welcome banks offering help to their customers,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“As the Prime Minister has said, if businesses and individuals across the UK pull together in a united, national effort, it will help us to get through the significant challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.”
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