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How UK banks are offering coronavirus support to customers

Rupert Jones

Britain’s banks have been rushing out measures to help people who face getting into financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus.

Some lenders have announced changes to assist customers who may need to use their overdraft to tide them over, such as free borrowing for a period or a much bigger interest-free buffer.

They have also been rolling out their application processes for three-month mortgage payment holidays, to give homeowners a bit of breathing space – but bear in mind that while you do not have to repay anything during that period, you still continue to rack up interest, so you will end up paying more over the long term.

Overdrafts

Barclays It is automatically waiving interest on all authorised overdrafts between 27 March and – at the moment – 30 April. Customers do not need to do anything, and this means they can use their overdraft free of charge during this time.

HSBC From 26 March, customers will get a temporary £300 interest-free buffer on their overdraft. This applies to those holding HSBC’s bank account and advance account. This will last for three months and amounts to a sizeable increase on the recently introduced £25 buffer.

Lloyds From 6 April, Lloyds, plus Halifax and Bank of Scotland, customers will be able to access a £300 interest-free overdraft. Anyone with an authorised overdraft will not need to take any action as this will automatically be available for three months until 6 July.

Santander It has not yet made an announcement on overdrafts but says this is very much on its radar, “We are currently reviewing other ways in which we can support our customers, including overdrafts,” Santander told us on Wednesday. Its website stated: “We may be able to increase your overdraft.”

NatWest Awaiting details.

Mortgage payment holidays

Barclays It is offering its residential mortgage customers payment holidays for up to 90 days. There is an online form to fill in and the bank will confirm by text message if your request has been accepted within three to five working days. Alternatively, a customer may be allowed to switch to interest-only payments for up to 12 months.

HSBC People can apply for a three-month mortgage payment holiday by filling in a form on the bank’s website. It says it is trying to get back to people within seven days.

The lender is also offering the possibility of longer-term support, including extending the remaining term, switching rates, or switching part or all the home loan to an interest-only basis.

NatWest It is offering customers an up to three-month mortgage payment holiday. There is an online form to fill in and it will email you within five days to confirm what is happening. Other options may also be available.

Lloyds The lender is offering mortgage payment holidays for up to three months. Fill in the online form and it will respond within three to five working days via text message to confirm if your request has been accepted. You may also be able to switch all or part of your mortgage from interest-only to repayment, or extend the home loan term. It has also said there will be no missed payment fees on mortgages for three months.

Santander It is offering mortgage payment holidays for up to three months. Click here for more information.

Branch opening hours

Barclays To check a branch’s opening hours, use the website’s branch locator tool – though it warns that some branches have changed their regular opening hours or have temporarily closed.

HSBC Use its branch finder tool to check – though it warns that many are on reduced hours or closed because of coronavirus. All branches are closed at the weekend until further notice.

NatWest Use the website’s branch locator tool to check opening hours.

Lloyds From 25 March, all branches will be open from 10am until 2pm Monday to Friday. They will not be open at weekends. Lloyds has also announced that dozens of branches have temporarily closed as a result of coronavirus.

Nationwide Core hours for most branches will now be 10am until 2pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am until 12pm on Saturday, with increased distancing between employees and customers.

Santander The lender says its university branches are temporarily closing, while all others will be temporarily reducing their hours to 10am-4pm Monday to Friday (with the exception of Gateshead Metro, which will be open 10.30am-4pm). No branches will be open on Saturdays or Sundays.