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No blanket extension to mortgage holidays

There will not be a blanket extension to mortgage payment deferrals when the current arrangements for helping borrowers through the Coronavirus Crisis come to an end in 31 October.

This is the consequence of new guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority. It said borrowers who continue to face payment difficulties due to Coronavirus should be given support but that this should be tailored to individual circumstances. Further, any support given should be included in credit records, possibly affecting future borrowing prospects.

Firms will offer further short and longer-term support which could include extending repayment terms or restructuring mortgages, said FCA..

‘Where consumers need further short-term support, firms can continue to offer arrangements for no or reduced payments for a specified period to give customers time to get back on track’, it said.

Under the new guidance, lenders will prioritise support, putting those borrowers most at risk of harm, or who face the greatest financial difficulties, at the head of the queue.

‘Some consumers will continue to be impacted by coronavirus in the coming months, or be impacted for the first time. Consumers in these situations will benefit from firms providing them with tailored support’, said FCA interim chief executive Christopher Woolard.

‘However, it is very important that consumers who can afford to resume mortgage payments should do so for their own long-term interests and so that help can be targeted at those most in need’.

Which? was one of the first consumer organisations to react. ‘While the FCA has announced some support for certain customers who will struggle financially after the current support period ends, it is disappointing that payment deferrals will no longer be available in the same way’, said head of Money Which? Gareth Shaw.

‘We are also concerned about the impact of allowing normal credit reference agency reporting to resume even where consumers fall into temporary difficulty. It is unfair that consumers who have not yet had a deferral, but may need support after the furlough scheme ends, will feel the effects longer-term’.