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Santander grants more than 340,000 payment holidays as profit halves

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Santander’s trading results for the nine months to September reveal profit after tax fell by more than half to £242m as it granted more than 340,000 payment holidays to customers.

Payment holidays were granted to 244,000 mortgage customers on £37bn of loans while 35,000 car finance customers deferred on £500m of loans.

On credit cards, 29,000 customers opted for a payment holiday on £100m of loans as 31,000 unsecured personal loan holidays were granted on £200m of debt.

Turning to support for businesses, the Santander quarterly management statement for the nine months ending September 2020, revealed 135,000 customers were helped through the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme on a total loan balance of £3.6bn.

Overall, Santander’s income was down 8% due to the low interest rate environment and regulatory changes to overdrafts, as well as rate reductions for customers in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it said this was partially offset by repricing on £55bn of deposits on its 123 current accounts and other customer deposit products. As such, operating income was up 16%.

It noted credit impairment charges of £547m, up from £137m in the previous year, largely due to Covid-19. But there was no additional PPI charge in the nine month period, compared to £169m last year.

Profit before tax stood at £319m, down 59% from £785m in the nine-month period last year, while profit after tax was recorded at £242m, a 57% fall from £561m recorded in 2019.

Santander said the UK economic environment remains uncertain, with an increasing prospect of further restrictions on activity over the winter months and ongoing Brexit trade negotiations.

It assumes a slow recovery, with local lockdowns in areas with high infection rates, and a limited trade deal with the EU. As such, it remains cautious in its outlook.

However, Santander said that in Q3 2020, the mortgage market has been active due to pent up demand from the lockdown period and the temporary reduction of stamp duty. As such, it reported an increase in mortgage applications.

Nathan Bostock, chief executive officer, said: “We remain firmly focused on supporting our customers, our colleagues and our communities through the Covid-19 pandemic. We have provided more than £4bn of government-backed loans to help our business customers and given over 340,000 payment holidays on mortgages, loans and credit cards to personal and small business customers.

“Although our results for the first nine months of 2020 were materially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have mitigated some of this through an improvement in income in the third quarter of this year and continued to focus on making the business more efficient. The UK faces an uncertain period in the months ahead and we will continue to offer support and advice tailored to customers’ circumstances through these challenging times.

“I believe Santander UK remains well placed given the decisive actions we have taken and the resilience of our balance sheet to deliver on our purpose to help people and businesses prosper.”

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