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Borrowers have until Wednesday to apply for payment holidays

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·2-min read

Borrowers have until Wednesday to apply for a payment holiday on products such as mortgages, personal loans and credit cards.

Eligible customers who have not taken a payment holiday before, and those who have previously had a payment deferral totalling less than six months, have until March 31 to apply.

Generally, people have until the end of the day on Wednesday to apply, although the exact timing could vary, depending on how customers interact with their lenders, and so customers may not want to leave applications until the last minute.

Payment holidays are generally due to come to an end in July.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said previously that as demand for payment holidays reduces, lenders will provide a range of tailored support based on customers’ individual needs and circumstances.

The regulator said firms are expected to ensure all staff are adequately trained and have appropriate oversight of new staff to ensure the right support is provided to customers.

According to trade association UK Finance, a cumulative 2.75 million mortgage payment deferrals were granted up until the end of 2020, with 1.8 million in place at the peak in June 2020.

By late February 2021, there were 104,000 mortgage payment deferrals still in place, equating to 0.9% of the total mortgage stock, compared with 17% of the total mortgage stock at the peak in June 2020.

Charles Roe, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Millions of people whose finances have been impacted by the pandemic have already received support from their lender through a mortgage payment deferral.

“The payment deferral scheme will be in place until July 31 to support customers through the continuing restrictions, with final applications due by March 31.

“It will always be in the long-term interest of borrowers to resume making payments if they are able to do so.

“However, for anyone who is still struggling, ongoing support will be available, including tailored assistance for those who have taken a full six-month payment deferral, or those who find themselves needing help after  March 31.

“I  would urge customers experiencing financial difficulty to contact their lender as soon as possible.”

Rich Horner, head of individual protection at MetLife, said: “For over a year now home owners have been faced with ongoing financial uncertainty.

“Not knowing what the future would hold and unsure of how best to plan for what has been an everchanging situation.

“Millions of people have, and continue to experience job uncertainty or a drop in income.”

He added: “It’s imperative that prospective buyers and current homeowners consider their current financial position and ensure that they are protected against any unforeseen circumstances or illnesses that could leave them unable to meet their mortgage payments.”