Banks offer mortgage holidays as part of coronavirus response

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Royal Bank of Scotland is among the banks offering mortgage repayment holiday to customers over coronavirus. (Alastair Grant/AP)

UK banks are offering customers mortgage repayment holidays and special overdraft extensions as part of emergency measures to combat the economic effects of coronavirus.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L), and Barclays (BARC.L) on Tuesday all pledged to offer extra support to customers hit by coronavirus.

RBS and Lloyds both said they would offer customers mortgage repayment holidays in response to the
COVID-19 outbreak. The policies cover banks within both groups, including Halifax, Natwest, and Bank of Scotland.

“We are making some temporary changes over the coming weeks, and will be providing individual support to customers who need extra help,” Vim Maru, group director of retail at Lloyds Banking Group, said in a statement.

Lloyds will also waive fees on late credit card, mortgage, and loan payments, and give customers emergency access to fixed savings accounts.

RBS announced a similar raft of policies. The bank will waive fees on credit card cash withdrawals and waive early closure fees for fixed savings accounts. Both measures are meant to ensure customers don’t face a cash crunch as a result of any coronavirus-linked economic slowdown.

“We are monitoring the potential impact of coronavirus across all our customers to ensure we can support them appropriately through any period of disruption,” an RBS spokesperson said.

“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.”

Read more: Halifax bank call centre closed after worker tests positive for coronavirus

RBS customers who need it will also be given temporary increases in cash withdrawal limits and extensions to credit card limits.

“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,” the RBS spokesperson said. “We would encourage any customer experiencing financial difficulty to get in touch with us.”

Separately, Barclays said it would provide support for customers, including temporary increases in credit card limits and waiving fees on early access to fixed savings accounts.

“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,” a Barclays spokesperson said.

The new measures for retail customers comes a day after RBS announced it would make £5bn ($6.5bn) available to small and medium sized businesses to support them through the coronavirus outbreak.

Fears are growing about the economic impact of COVID-19 and efforts to contain it. The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) has fallen over 20% since mid-February, as investors fret about a possible slowdown in global growth.

Italy’s government announced a national mortgage payment holiday for citizens on Tuesday, following the decision to lockdown the entire country. Italy is facing the biggest COVID-19 outbreak outside of China.