New Covid-19 support package from Nationwide
Nationwide has launched a Home Support Package to help customers struggling financially due to Covid-19.
The society is offering extended support for people financially impacted by the outbreak and has put in place a range of options for both homeowners and tenants.
The move comes after the FCA announced that mortgage borrowers will be able to ask lenders for a second three-month mortgage payment holiday.
In addition to three-month payment breaks for both residential and buy-to-let mortgages, the society is also enabling partial payments such as temporary interest-only arrangements.
The five points of the Home Support Package are:
Commitment not to repossess any homes over the next 12 months
No mortgage member will lose the property in which they live if they are in arrears as a result of Covid-19 and work with the society to get their finances back on track. Nationwide says it will protect homes in this way until the end of May 2021.
Option to change the way people pay their mortgages
Nationwide is offering flexibility for members in meeting their mortgage payments where they can. Assessments will ensure the best outcome, and timeframe, for people’s circumstances. This could include temporarily moving to interest-only payments to minimise the long-term impact on their finances.
New three-month mortgage payment breaks for those still in financial difficulty due to Covid-19
This would mean a total of up to six months’ support to those most needing it, following an assessment to ensure the hardest-hit customers receive additional support. There will be cases where a payment break is not in the best interests of someone’s circumstances. In these cases, Nationwide will suggest alternatives.
Encouraging landlords to pass on payment breaks to tenants
Nationwide is contacting all its buy-to-let landlord customers to let them know that if their tenants require a rent payment break due to the impact of Covid-19, they can have a mortgage payment break on the property.
Greater focus on housing advice and support
Through Nationwide’s longstanding partnership with Shelter, the society will fund more advisers for the charity’s helpline services which provide specialist advice to those with housing, debt and welfare issues.
Nationwide will also support the introduction of new Shelter community engagement officers, who will provide community outreach for those people that struggle to access support.
Coronavirus support page
New payment breaks – partial or full – will be available via the society’s online coronavirus support page from mid-June.
Members already receiving payment support will be contacted prior to it ending and directed online should they require further support due to ongoing financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19. All payment breaks will continue to accrue interest.
Joe Garner, Nationwide’s chief executive, says: “There is a real need to reassure people, particularly those on mortgage payment breaks who are worried what will happen next. At a time when people are concerned about their jobs, bills and health, we want to do everything possible to ensure they don’t worry about having a roof over their heads. As a mutual, founded to help people into a home of their own, this is what building societies have always been about. We hope this additional support will provide extra flexibility to those who most need it, to help get them back on track.”
Nationwide is also asking the government to consider changes to the way housing support is provided, asking that Local Housing Allowance covers the 50th percentile of rents in any given area rather than the current 30th percentile.
This is something Shelter and the Money Advice Trust have also called for, while also working with Government and other organisations to establish a more consistent and customer-focussed approach to debt collection and recoveries.