Banks introduce measures to help customers affected by coronavirus

A number of banks and building societies have announced measures aimed at assisting customers affected by coronavirus.

NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage customers caught up in the outbreak could defer their loan repayments for up to three months if they are in financial difficulty.

The group said customers' situations will be looked at on a "case-by-case" basis and various potential options will be matched to them.

While there is no single “blanket provision”, the help that customers could be offered if their finances are in difficulty due to Covid-19 includes requesting mortgage and loan repayment deferrals for up to three months.

The update comes as England's deputy chief medical officer said an Italy-style lockdown of the UK "cannot be ruled out".

Cosmetics shop Lush advertises free hand washing for public. Credit: PA

Customers hit by coronavirus could also apply for an increased temporary credit card limit and may be able to close fixed savings accounts to access cash with no early closure charge.

Those struggling to cope may also request an increased debit card cash withdrawal limit of up to £500.

A spokesperson for the banks, which are in the same group, 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."

Stock markets have plunged on the fears of impact of the coronavirus. Credit: PA

He added: "We have a strong track record in working with our customers who are affected by disruption outside of their control.

"We understand that there may be circumstances where a personal customer may fall into financial difficulty as a result of the impacts of coronavirus, for instance, loss of income."

Santander's support for customers includes the option to potentially defer or reduce repayments that are due. Credit: PA

Santander also said it would look at each customer's situation and explore ways to support them depending on their specific circumstances.

The bank's support for customers includes the option to potentially defer or reduce repayments that are due.

A Santander spokesperson said: "Santander has a team of experts on hand to support customers who have been impacted by the coronavirus."

Barclays also says it has a range of potential measures for business customers. Credit: PA

Barclays has also said it will remove penalty charges so people affected by the virus can access fixed savings accounts early and enable customers to apply for a temporary increase on their credit card limit.

A statement from Barclays said: "Any customers suffering hardship as a result of Covid-19 can contact our specialist support colleagues if they are experiencing problems making repayments to their mortgage, overdraft, personal loans or credit cards.

Barclays also has a range of potential measures for business customers, including 12 month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25,000 and increasing overdraft facilities.

Markets have been turbulent since the global spread of coronavirus. Credit: PA

Last week, trade association UK Finance said banks, building societies and credit card providers understand that some customers may be worried about the effect that contracting the coronavirus could have on their finances.

UK Finance said support could include offering or increasing an overdraft or allowing repayment relief for loan or mortgage repayments.

It said asking for help early is key.