Some light relief if not good news is some banks are offering ‘mortgage holidays’ and waving fees, etc... on late payments or withdrawing money in savings accounts early.
RBS, NatWest, Lloyds and TSB to increase credit card limits and let fixed-term savers withdraw cash early
UK banks including Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and TSB are to offer repayment holidays on mortgages and loans, as part of relief measures for customers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The moves are part of efforts by UK banks to stem a potential tide of defaults if customers become ill, have to self-isolate or lose pay from employers and clients as the virus continues to spread.
The announcement from the UK lenders came after Italy declared it was suspending all mortgage repayments across the nation, following extended emergency measures that placed the entire country under lockdown.
Italy’s deputy economy minister, Laura Castelli, confirmed the debt relief measures on Tuesday, saying: “Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households.”
A number of British banks have already signed off emergency loans for business customers in recent weeks, but fresh measures covering individual borrowers shows lenders are ramping up their contingency plans as the number of UK infections rises.
RBS Group, which is still 62% owned by the government and also includes NatWest and Ulster Bank, announced it will offer a three-month holiday on mortgage and loan repayment for customers affected by the outbreak. It will also allow customers to temporarily increase their credit card limit and access cash in fixed savings accounts with no early closure charges.
The bank is also offering to scrap fees on credit card cash advances and increase cash withdrawal limits up to £500.
Taxpayer-owned bank RBS will allow people affected by the coronavirus outbreak to defer mortgage and loan repayments for up to three months.
TSB and Lloyds said they would also allow a mortgage window, and the banks said savers could close fixed-term savings accounts without charge.
This is designed to allow people to access cash if they need it as the impact of the virus is felt.
Banks are also announcing extra support for affected businesses.
Cases of mortgage repayment holidays are being taken on a case-by-case basis, and the length of any suspension can vary between banks.
Other support for individuals facing financial difficulties owing to the virus includes:
- Refunds on credit card cash advance feesThe option of applying for an temporarily increased credit card borrowing limitAsking for an increased cash withdrawal limit of up to £500
The measures are similar to those already in place for people facing financial difficulties.
“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,” a spokesman for RBS said.
“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.”
UK Finance, which represents the major banks, said that all banks would consider increasing overdrafts or allowing repayment relief for loan or mortgage repayments for those affected by the virus.
“We would encourage customers who think they may be affected to contact their provider as soon as possible to discuss the support available to them,” said its chief executive, Stephen Jones.
That’s a nice safety net.
Please ‘statutory sick pay’ still applies.
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can get SSP if you’re eligible. You should tell your employer as soon as possible.
You need to qualify for SSP and have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days).
You cannot get less than the statutory amount. You can get more if your company has a sick pay scheme (or ‘occupational scheme’) - check your employment contract.
There are different sick pay rules for agricultural workers.
Emergency legislation is being brought forward. You’ll be able to get SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating and cannot work. This will begin from 13 March.
What you’ll get.
You can get £94.25 a week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks.
If you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can get SSP. You must be eligible for SSP.
The days you’re off sick when you normally would have worked are called ‘qualifying days’. If you’re eligible, you’ll get SSP for all your qualifying days, except for the first 3. These are called ‘waiting days’.
You only get paid for waiting days if you’ve already received SSP within the last 8 weeks, and that included a 3-day waiting period.
SSP is paid by your employer in the same way as your normal wages, for example weekly or monthly.
If you have more than one job you may get SSP from each employer.
Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
If you think you are not getting the right amount of SSP, talk to your employer. If you’re still not happy, contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry line.