Britain’s biggest mortgage lenders will this week launch a multimillion pound campaign aimed at illustrating the range of support they are providing to cash-strapped customers as the industry faces its most intense scrutiny in years.
It is understood that a £5m advertising blitz paid for by participating banks will urge customers to ‘reach out’ if they are struggling with their monthly repayments.
The campaign, orchestrated by the industry lobbying group UK Finance, comes weeks after the signing of a mortgage charter by major lenders following talks with the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.
One bank executive said the marketing initiative was agreed at the roundtable last month.
David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “We have launched this campaign with our members to make sure that anyone struggling with their mortgage payments knows that help is available.
“Lenders are ready to provide support even if a customer’s payments are up to date – if you’re struggling with your mortgage, or think that you will struggle, Reach Out to find out the options available for help.”
An industry source said that in the year to January 2023, lenders had come to the assistance of more than 200,000 borrowers who couldn’t meet their full mortgage payments, and more than two million who required assistance as a result of financial difficulties.
The range of support on offer from lenders includes the extension of to reduce monthly payments, a temporary switch to interest-only payments or a temporary reduction in payments.
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The mortgage charter consists of additional measures such as giving customers approaching the end of a fixed-rate mortgage the opportunity to lock in deals, as well as a guarantee that their home will not be repossessed within 12 months of their first missed payment.
UK Finance’s campaign has been created by the advertising agency M&C Saatchi.
Its launch comes amid growing pressure on the banking sector on several fronts, with growing scrutiny of the relative speed at which lenders are increasing mortgage and savings rates after Bank of England base rate hikes.
A separate savings charter is expected to be published as soon as this week.
An unrelated campaign to exercise pressure on major banks has resulted from the row triggered by Coutts’ decision to close Nigel Farage’s accounts.
Last week, Dame Alison Rose stepped down as chief executive of NatWest Group, Coutts’s parent, after admitting that she had discussed his banking arrangements with a BBC journalist, who said his erroneous story had come from a “trusted and senior source”.