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Millions of payment holidays granted to borrowers during year of lockdowns

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

Banking and finance customers will continue to be supported as the country moves forward from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a trade association has said.

UK Finance released figures showing the breadth of financial support given to customers as the anniversary of the national lockdowns approaches on March 23.

Some 27 million interest-free overdrafts were offered to customers as the crisis unfolded.

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And 2.75 million mortgage payment holidays were granted up until the end of 2020, with 1.8 million in place at the peak in June 2020.

As at February 26 2021, 104,000 mortgage payment deferrals were still in place. This equated to 0.9% of the total mortgage stock, down from 17% of the total mortgage stock back in June.

Meanwhile, 828,000 personal loan payment holidays have been issued, with 82,000 still in place in early March 2021.

And 1.18 million credit card payment deferrals have been issued, with around 100,000 still in place in early March 2021.

David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “Helping get the UK through these tough times has been at the heart of our work over the past year, and will continue.

“Working together with our members, the Government, regulators and others, I am proud of what the banking and finance industry has delivered.

“As we look to the months ahead, we will continue to provide support for customers as we move on from the effects of the pandemic.”

Banks have also helped people to access cash when they have experienced difficulties getting out and about.

Some £7 million was provided by banks in home cash deliveries for vulnerable people who were unable to get to a bank branch or cash machine.

Nearly 10,000 customers have benefited from third-party access cards, allowing either carers or a trusted person to make limited transactions on their behalf.

And nearly 17 million vulnerable customers were proactively contacted by their bank and offered additional support.

UK Finance also said nearly one million customers have become “digitally enabled”, meaning that they can now use online services, through support, training and guidance from banks and building societies.

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The number of coronavirus-related scams surged during the lockdowns.

UK Finance said that staff working in bank, building society, and post office branches stopped £45.3 million of fraud through the Banking Protocol in 2020.

Under the Banking Protocol, staff alert the police if they suspect a customer is at risk of fraud while the customer is in branch or on the phone. More than 7,800 emergency calls were made by staff to police last year, protecting customers from losing an average of £5,749 each to criminals.

In 2020, the industry-sponsored police unit the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) prevented nearly £20 million of fraud.