FCA tells lenders to keep helping those affected by Covid-19 after October

The FCA has issued financial firms fresh guidance on how they should support customers before they miss payments due to the pandemic.

Actions they could take include suspending, reducing, waiving or cancelling further interest or charges, permitting a customer to make no or reduced payments, as well as agreeing a payment plan.

The regulator said firms should offer a range of shorter and longer-term options, depending on customers’ circumstances.

The FCA also told customers to get in touch with their lenders if they are experiencing problems due to Covid-19 – whether they have already taken out a mortgage payment holiday or not.

Applications for a three month mortgage payment holiday need to be completed by the end of October.

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “It’s clear that mortgage payment holidays have proved a vital lifeline for some homeowners who have suffered financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, while it’s important for people to be aware that there will be support available beyond October, we’d urge homeowners to speak to their broker or lender to explore their options before making a decision.

“Homeowners across the UK are now facing new and varied lockdown restrictions. Following the FCA announcement, we could see lenders take varying stances towards homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage payments.

“As people’s livelihoods continue to be impacted, it’s really important that any financial support is consistent across the whole market.”

He added: “In these unprecedented times, we’d urge the FCA to take more substantial action beyond 31st October.

“There are inequalities in the housing market and this proposal may not go far enough to protect those most in need. It’s important that during this difficult time the market maintains consistency and ensures that all consumers are treated equally, regardless of who their mortgage is with.“

The FCA said that almost a third (31%) of adults have seen a decrease in income due to the pandemic.