Information from Banks and Finance Websites
Support for Small Businesses
Today we have launched our participation in the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIL), which was announced by the Chancellor in the Budget and put in place by the British Business Bank today.
The terms of the scheme were finalised over the weekend and we are working hard to ensure our staff are trained and ready to help customers, many of whom we know will be increasingly anxious. Please bear with us as we work to put in place the arrangements to ensure the smooth operation of the scheme.
The CBIL scheme is a borrowing facility designed to help businesses access finance where a lender would not be able to provide finance to the business on their normal lending criteria. The British Business Bank has set out strict eligibility criteria and limits to the size of loans that we must apply when assessing applications. This means that some businesses will find that they are unable to access loans under the scheme, but we will work with customers and clients to help them understand the framework.
Support for Larger Businesses
The Bank of England has also launched today a Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). This will provide funding to corporates with an Investment Grade credit rating and who make a material contribution to the UK economy, through the purchase, by the Bank of England, of Commercial Paper of up to one-year maturity. In addition to assisting our clients originate into and access the facility, we have been providing our thoughts to the relevant authorities as to how best to meet their objectives.
Support for Customers
We have created a hub with all the latest information on our products and services for customers. It is updated daily so that customers can find the information they need in one place.
Our colleagues are also facing unprecedented times and so we are asking customers to only phone us if they have an immediate financial problem. That way, we can help make sure that those who are most vulnerable receive the support they need. All of our online and mobile channels are working as normal. The attached one pager summarises the support we are providing for customers across the bank.
HSBC UK is standing ready to support our personal and business customers as they tackle the financial impact of COVID-19
Support for personal customers
We can reduce or defer mortgage payments, temporarily increase credit card and overdraft limits, and allow early access to fixed-rate savings accounts without charges. We have passed on the base rate cut to variable rate mortgage customers. From 26 March, we are introducing a temporary £300 interest-free buffer on overdrafts for a period of three months.
Support for business customers
We have allocated £5bn for SMEs that need support, £3bn for businesses that trade internationally, and removed the £100 fee for Small Business Loans. We will consider repayment holidays, changing terms on overdrafts or trade loans, and providing guarantees to support customer supply chains.
As you will be aware, the Government has launched the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to provide loans of up to £5m to firms that cannot seek finance in the normal way. HSBC UK will waive all arrangement and prepayment fees and will not seek personal guarantees for loans up to £250,000. Implementing a new scheme at speed creates challenges, but we are endeavouring to work through them as quickly as possible. CBILS applications must go through a credit assessment process, and be eligible under British Business Bank rules.
For companies involved in the supply and manufacture of ventilators, HSBC UK will offer preferential pricing, extended repayment terms on loans and fast track approval times to support the unprecedented demand on UK hospitals.
Impact on HSBC’s transformation programme
Due to the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, HSBC Group have decided to pause the vast majority of redundancies associated with the transformation programme where notices have not already been issued. We will also pause most of our external recruitment.
Additional support to tackle Coronavirus
HSBC is making $25m available worldwide to support the international medical response, protect vulnerable people and ensure food security. This week we have pledged an initial £1m to the Red Cross and National Emergency Trust Coronavirus Appeal in the UK.
Branches and contact Centres
during this difficult time, all branches will be closed at the weekend and many are on reduced hours. Most everyday banking needs can be managed via our mobile and online services. Our telephone contact centre (0345 740 4404) is open from 08:00 to 20:00, except for lost and stolen cards, which is open 24/7. We are receiving far more calls than usual, so wait times are likely to be longer.
Further information about our support for business and personal customers is available here.
Our branches and contact centres, all of which are based here in the UK, provide an essential service. We are working hard to keep as many of these open and fully staffed as possible.
Under these extraordinary circumstances, our priority is to protect our branches and contact centres for vulnerable customers and those most in need, and so we would ask that customers only call us if absolutely necessary. We have a dedicated webpage where customers will be able to find a range of information, as well as access to our online chat service.
Over the past two weeks, we have introduced a series of measures to support customers, including those who are worried about their finances in light of the ongoing situation. For personal customers, these include:
- Payment holiday: Mortgage payment holidays of up to three months are available and can be applied for through a simple online form
- Borrowing: Increased overdrafts or credit card limits may be available to customers
- Access to savings: Customers can access money held in fixed rate bonds and fixed rate ISAs before the end of the fixed term, free of charge
- Contactless payments: From 1 April, in coordination with other banks and the retail industry, we will increase the maximum payment for a contactless card from £30 to £45 to allow more purchases to be made without the need for physical contact.
- ATMs: We are working to make sure our cash machines are fully stocked
- Hold on repossessions: We have suspended all possession orders for a three-month period
We are continuing to explore further options to help our customers and we will keep our website and social media up to date with the latest information.
We have also set up a dedicated helpline for those who urgently need help (0800 01 56 382) but would please ask that customers only use this number if they need emergency support to allow those who most need the help to receive it. Lines are open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-4pm.
We have announced a number of options to address the needs of individual business customers, including access to capital repayment holidays and additional liquidity across overdrafts, working capital, trade finance and loan facilities. We are also participating in the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme. More details can be found online.
Please do get in touch with Santander’s Public Affairs team who will ensure the situation is fully looked into. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
We understand how important it is for our customers to receive support with their finances and, at times like this, we recognise we need to do all we can to be there for them.
We’ve had a good response to our offer to put in place a payment holiday of up to three months for our personal mortgage customers, if their household income has been affected. Over 70,000 homeowners have successfully applied for one. This means they will temporarily stop paying all or part of their monthly mortgage payment, which will be added onto their mortgage balance and repaid over the course of the remaining mortgage term. We are also waiving any missed payment fees for mortgage customers for three months.
Additionally, for anyone in the process of trying to buy a new home who has an existing mortgage offer with us, we have granted them an additional three months to complete their home purchase at the agreed rate.
Finally, the recent Bank of England base rate reductions totalling 0.65% will be passed on in full to mortgage customers of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, helping to reduce their monthly household outgoings.
To help our customers manage their finances during this challenging period, from 6 April our personal banking customers will be able to access a £300 overdraft, interest-free. The majority of customers who use overdrafts do not go over that limit, and thanks to the changes we have already announced, those who do will pay less interest than they used to.
As with mortgages, we are also offering our customers with personal loans a payment holiday. More than 30,000 customers have already taken up this offer. Similarly, there will be no missed payment fees for customers with loans, as well as credit cards and motor finance, for three months.
We would urge any customer who is worried about their financial situation to contact us. We are doing our utmost to answer all of these queries swiftly, though we ask that customers bear with us as our telephone lines are facing significantly higher demand resulting in delays. We are regularly updating the information we have online for those customers who can find answers that way.
Branches/access to cash
Our aim is to keep as many branches open as possible, whilst ensuring we abide by public health guidelines. To achieve this we have altered our shift pattern, so that only one shift operates in each branch. This means that our weekday opening hours are now 10am to 2pm and we have stopped weekend openings. As you might imagine, our staffing situation changes daily as our colleagues try to balance their desire to keep serving customers with changes in their personal circumstances. In some cases due to local issues branches have had to close suddenly, either for staffing reasons or to be cleaned. We recognise our duty to keep services going and are making every effort to keep as many open as possible.
Customers can also pay in or withdraw money from their local post office.
In order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank mobile branches, which visit over two hundred rural communities each week. We are contacting regular users of our mobile branches to offer support during this pause in service.
The supply of cash continues to operate as normal. LINK, which manages the largest network of cash machines, has said that ATM and cash use has fallen by around 50% in recent days. Nevertheless the industry is taking steps to make alternative forms of payment more available. For example from April, the contactless payment limit for all customers will increase from £30 to £45. Customers using mobile devices can make secure contactless payments above this limit at many retailers.
We have created a £2bn package of support to help small business, which includes the waiving of our standard arrangement fees for new overdrafts, overdraft limit increases and new or increased invoice discounting and finance facilities for businesses that are particularly affected. This is part of an £18 billion commitment made by the Group to support businesses during 2020.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) is now available to businesses with turnover up to £45m, for loans up to £5m, which will be fee free and have 12 months interest free. We have now also changed our approach so that lending of amounts less than £250,000 under the CBIL scheme does not require business owners to put up any personal guarantees as security.
The CBIL scheme is designed to be a valuable back-stop for those viable UK businesses affected by coronavirus that cannot currently access normal bank lending. Under the terms of the scheme, where we can offer finance on normal commercial terms, we will continue to do so – and at lower rates than previously was the case because of the recently announced Bank of England rate reduction and its Term Funding Scheme for SMEs. If we are not able to extend finance under our normal criteria, then the business’ eligibility will be considered under the CIBL scheme. From today all applications for support will be considered under the scheme and many more eligible businesses can benefit from 0% interest on term loans for the first 12 months. We’re pleased too by the announcement of (CLBILS) which provides much needed help for larger firms.
Specific help for over-70s and NHS workers
We have introduced a new, dedicated telephone service for the over-70s. This ensures that our elderly and more vulnerable customers can get through to personalised help quickly. We are writing to over three million customers who qualify to explain the support.
In addition we are using our technology to fast-track NHS employees who call us so they don‘t have to wait. When they call our helplines they will automatically receive priority service. We are also working to identify any other customers who may need extra support, such as those who have previously informed us that they have specific service needs because of a vulnerability, and we will be deploying technology that will allow us to prioritise their calls through our existing telephone lines where possible. We are also taking steps to make it easier for customers to get access to cash where they are unable to leave their home owing to the current circumstances.
Meanwhile we continue to keep as many branches open as possible. We have had to close a number due to staff illness or to deep-clean them, and these closures can happen at short notice. Roughly 90% of our branches remain open, on weekdays from 10am to 2pm. We have suspended our mobile branch service.
News for shareholders
Earlier this week our Board announced its decision not to make any dividend payments or share buybacks on Lloyds Banking Group shares until the end of 2020. In response to a request from our regulator to ensure that we are preserving resources to support customers, the Board also decided to cancel payment of the final 2019 dividend. Clearly this will come as a disappointment to our shareholders, many of whom are customers, but we feel this is a prudent step to take in the current circumstances.
While many of our colleagues can work from home during this period, there are roles where this is not currently possible. We understand that we are asking a lot of these colleagues, and we do not take their contribution for granted.
That is why we are taking steps to reduce the risks for them, including appropriate social distancing and enhanced cleaning procedures at our sites. We are also urgently seeking ways to allow many of these critical activities to be conducted remotely, in a way that safeguards our customers’ data. Furthermore, we are reviewing all our activities with a view to halting temporarily all those that aren’t directly focused on supporting the economy through the crisis.
We have committed to stand by our colleagues regardless of the impact of the crisis on their ability to work. We are cooperating closely with our recognised unions to make sure that we have in place all possible steps to protect our customers and our staff.
There have been further developments in the last fortnight in the support we are offering personal and business customers affected by coronavirus that I thought you might find it useful to know about, in case it helps you and your team with queries from your constituents. As ever, please feel free to raise any issues we might be able to assist with.
Getting cash to small businesses
We remain focused on helping the Government deliver its Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Thanks to the changes introduced in the initial weeks to simplify eligibility, we have been steadily increasing the number of customers helped. Operational difficulties have meant that this has not gone as smoothly as we would have wanted to begin with, but the rate of delivery is accelerating and we are getting help to qualifying businesses as quickly as possible. The latest figures from UK Finance, which speaks for the industry as a whole, show a significant increase in the number of loans being approved. Total lending under the scheme has grown by £700 million in the last week, an increase of 150 per cent.
Meanwhile we continue to work with government to refine and extend the options available. While customer demand below £25,000 is mainly for payment holidays and overdrafts, we now offer CBILS from £10,000 for limited companies and from £25,000 for others, up to a maximum of £5m. We have also helped the Government develop the CBILS for larger businesses - CLBILS - to close the gap left for those too big to qualify for small business help but not large enough to qualify for the Government’s investment-grade corporate support (CCFF). However, we recognise there is still a lot to do to anticipate growing demand for help in the coming weeks and months, and to address the needs of those not strong enough to borrow their way out of the crisis. That’s why we have also been exploring with Government alternatives such as grant schemes and taking an equity stake in a business.
Supporting personal customers and the NHS
We’ve offered our personal customers payment holidays on mortgages, loans and cards, a £500 interest-free overdraft, no fees for missed payments and access to fixed term accounts without charge. So far we have agreed more than 350,000 personal loan payment holidays and nearly 300,000 mortgage payment holidays. Our motor finance customers can already access three-month payment deferrals on Hire Purchase, Personal Contract Purchase and Contract Hire products. This has already helped more than 50,000 people.
We have launched a new dedicated phone line for elderly customers and developed a new process to allow a trusted person limited access to an account for customers who need cash but can’t get to one of our branches and don’t bank digitally. In addition, our branch staff are now making ‘wellbeing calls’ – informal phone calls to elderly customers focused on providing human contact, reassurance and support rather than on specific banking needs.
Calls from customers who work for the NHS are answered as a priority. Separately we have sent more than 80m letters and 15m text messages to customers explaining what’s available, including a guide to how best to manage their money and stay safe from fraud.
In the last few days, we have set up a specialist phone line with the charity We Are Digital, to help up to 20,000 vulnerable customers learn digital skills and stay connected online. Users will be helped with everyday tasks such as online shopping and connecting virtually with family and friends, as well as online banking. This partnership will also deliver up to 2000 tablets to customers aged over 70 who would benefit most and don’t have a suitable device to access the internet.
We are also increasing our engagement with charities. With our support, The Silver Line, partner to Age UK, will continue to offer a 24/7 helpline and friendship services to those aged 55 plus who may be feeling lonely or isolated. This service has seen a huge increase in calls and this funding will help them meet this demand. We’re also providing extra funding to our long-term charity partner Mental Health UK to extend the Mental Health and Money Advice Service for those in financial difficulty.
Working safely with coronavirus
We have collaborated closely with our recognised trade unions Accord and Unite to make sure we are doing everything we can to create a safe working environment in all our sites, including appropriate social distancing requirements, specialised deep cleaning and Perspex screens in branches. Thanks to the efforts of our staff we are keeping nine out of 10 branches open on average, while our IT teams have allowed us to increase steadily the number of colleagues working from home, which in turn has taken some of the pressure off our call centres as we deal with significant increases in customer demand. We remain hugely grateful to our key worker colleagues who continue to report for duty in order to support our customers and keep the UK’s financial infrastructure running.
All the measures we have announced to date are set out in greater detail on our dedicated COVID-19 website.
This is the 4th update on what the bank is doing to help customers, colleagues, communities and the country as a whole face into the crisis and work together to ensure there is a solid foundation to build a strong recovery on. When our new CEO Alison Rose announced her strategy in early February, she set out an ambition to create a purpose-led organisation to support people, families and businesses. This is now more relevant than ever.
As of April 15th we have approved 4,500 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) applications and we continue to do more than any other bank. Our lending starts at £5,000 the lowest of the large banks and we led the way by not taking Personal Guarantees, as we know this isn’t business as usual. Our teams worked over the Easter weekend to process CBILS applications. As a result, the vast majority of our customers are now getting a call back within a day.
We have processed more than 100,000 mortgage repayment holidays (this compares to 5 a day pre-COVID-19) and reached out to over 228,000 customers over the age of 70 who don’t have access to digital banking, to check on their welfare. Our dedicated helplines for NHS, vulnerable and self-isolating customers have received more than 31,000 calls since they were set up. We also support LINK’s 12 month pledge to maintain free-to-use ATMs if they risk closing or switching to pay-to-use as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
£3 million has so far been raised for the National Emergencies Trust through customer donations from their Reward accounts and our match funding.
The NatWest Prince’s Trust Enterprise Relief Fund to support young entrepreneurs through this difficult time has received more than 2,500 notes of interest since launch last week. We’ve donated £5 million to the Fund to help 18-30-year olds get grants and tailored support.
We saw more calls in a single day after the government schemes went live than we normally see in an average month and the call levels have remained extremely high. Our debt management operations normally take 3000 calls a day but are now receiving as many as 25,000.
We have doubled the size of our call centre team from 200 to 400 to support our business customers as quickly as we can and to deal with the exceptionally high volumes.
We’ve redeployed and retrained hundreds of staff to support our colleagues on the front line to help ease the pressure on our telephony centres.
We have enabled more than 4,500 telephony colleagues to work from home in the last 3 weeks. In total around 50,000 colleagues are now working from home.
We have now approved around 4,500 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) applications and we continue to do more than any other bank.
Our lending starts at £5,000 the lowest of the large banks and we led the way by not taking Personal Guarantees, as we know this isn’t business as usual. Our teams worked over the Easter weekend to process CBILS applications. As a result, the vast majority of our customers (85%) are now getting a call back within a day.
At the larger end, we are doing everything we can to support those companies that play a key role in the economy and employ such large numbers with NatWest having facilitated more than £2bn of drawdowns a significant proportion of Bank of England drawdowns.
We have removed late credit card payment fees,
Frozen overdraft interest rates at current levels for personal customers for at least three months and removing all other overdraft fees and charges'
In line with the FCA’s announcement on loan and credit card relief we are extending our support to include a £500 interest-free overdraft buffer and three-month repayment deferral on credit cards. Customers should apply online at NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank NI'
Passed on the Bank of England base rate decreases to mortgage customers'
Vulnerable customers and NHS workers now have the option to get cash delivered securely to their home address'
Colleagues behind our Customer Care lines can now also issue a code over the phone which customers can give to a friend, neighbour or volunteer to withdraw an agreed amount of cash from an ATM within the next three hours.
Much of our branch network remains open and we’re prioritising core opening hours from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 1pm.
We are running a public awareness campaign to provide our customers and communities with relevant advice and support to help protect themselves against coronavirus scams.
Our colleagues in the bank are working incredibly hard, in difficult circumstances, and are facing many of the same concerns around health, family support and wellbeing as the rest of the population.
We continue to increase the number of colleagues who can work from home including those who don’t usually work from home due to the nature of their role. In total around 50,000 colleagues are now working from home.
We’ve taken significant measures to keep colleagues and customers safe. For example, only two customers in the banking hall at any time, making sure all colleagues and customers remain 2 metres apart, prioritising the elderly and the vulnerable and highlighting digital options for transactions.
We’ve reduced working hours in our branches with no reduction in what we pay our branch colleagues
To support Key Workers who continue to travel to work to our branches, telephony centres and those who support our critical systems and services, we are funding reasonable costs for car parking and/or taxis to get to work should their usual public transport become unavailable or unsuitable (e.g. over-crowded).
We’ve launched a Wellbeing Hub for all colleagues as we recognise the importance of health and wellbeing in our colleagues’ personal and work life during such a period of uncertainty. This includes a new virtual GP service for colleagues.
We have updated our overtime arrangements for our appointed and certain managerial colleagues.
Our CEO Alison Rose will donate 25% of her fixed pay for the rest of 2020 to the National Emergencies Trust and has asked not to be considered for any variable pay for this year. (Alison is eligible for variable pay up to a maximum of £1,925,000).
We have cancelled our final dividend payments for 2019 and will not make any further dividend payments or undertake share buy backs during 2020.
Match funding donations made by our customers to the National Emergencies Trust, contributing a total donation of up to £10 million. £3 million has been raised so far from customers and our matched donations.
We have set up the NatWest Prince’s Trust Enterprise Relief Fund to support young entrepreneurs through this difficult time. We’ve donated £5 million to the Fund to help 18-30 year olds get grants and tailored support and there has been more than 2,500 notes of interest since launch last week
More than £1 million to help 8 not-for-profit, debt management partners including PayPlan, StepChange, Money Advice Trust, Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Advice Scotland, Christians Against Poverty and Advice NI.
We are using our HQ at Gogarburn in Edinburgh as a food bank distribution hub for Social Bite and Trussell Trust charities.
We are doing everything we can to support our colleagues and are moving quickly to get solutions in place so we can help customers as fast and as accurately as possible. Anything you can do to assist us would be most welcome including ensuring those most in need are helped first, promoting the support measures we have put in place and sharing our customer support content via social media channels (@RBS_Help and @Natwest_Help) to drive better awareness.