RBS offers coronavirus mortgage holidays

Taxpayer-owned bank follows measures taken in virus-struck Italy

(Image credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

The Royal Bank of Scotland group is offering a three-month break from mortgage and loan repayments for customers affected by coronavirus.

The taxpayer-owned bank also said savers could close fixed-term savings accounts early with no charge, so they can access cash if they need it.

UK Finance, which represents banks, said that all lenders 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.

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The Daily Mail says Lloyds Banking Group has offered £2bn of new funding for small firms, while Natwest, which is part of RBS Group, is pledging £5bn of funding to support small and medium-sized businesses across the UK.

The plans “raise practical questions”, says the BBC’s economics correspondent Andy Verity, “above all, how will the banks establish that customers are truly affected by the virus rather than other factors? A doctor's letter?”

He also advises customers “to get it in writing from the bank that it won't harm their credit records”.

A spokeswoman for RBS said: “We are monitoring the potential impact of coronavirus across all our customers to ensure we can support them appropriately through any period of disruption. We have a strong track record in working with our customers who are affected by disruption outside of their control.”

In Italy, Laura Castelli, Italy's economy minister, said mortgage payments would be suspended across the country during its coronavirus lockdown.

Meanwhile, Sky News reports that the government is to put back its target date for selling its stake in RBS as turbulent stock markets hamper the prospects for an imminent reduction in its shareholding.

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