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ABA announces relief for borrowers affected by lockdowns

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The Australian Banking Association has announced extra support for mortgage borrowers and up to a three-month repayment deferral for small business customers impacted by current or recent COVID-19 lockdowns.

ABA chief executive Anna Bligh told The Australian that the recovery from recent lockdowns in some states was slower than in prior cases. She said that customers could “rest assured that if they need help, they will get it.”

“Your bank will help you find a way through,” Bligh said. “Don’t tough it out on your own. Banks also stand ready to support larger businesses, and they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

According to The Australian, the policy was discussed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn on Wednesday before being formally announced on Thursday. The policy is also subject to authorization by the competition regulator.

Under the ABA’s arrangement, mortgage support will include deferrals on a month-by-month basis. They will be extended to both individual and business customers, The Australian reported.

Small businesses with loans of less than $3 million and a turnover of less than $5 million will be able to access the three-month deferral. Those parameters include up to 98% of small businesses.

Other assistance will also be granted, including refunds on merchant terminal fees for up to three months and the waiver of fees and notice periods on cash deposit and farm management deposit accounts for up to three months.

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Frydenberg praised the ABA’s move, saying it was “good to see the banks supporting small businesses affected by the most recent Sydney lockdown with up to three-month loan repayment deferrals.”

“These are difficult days, but with the combined support of government, industry and the broader public we will get through this together,” Frydenberg said.

Ryan SmithRyan Smith is currently an executive editor at Key Media, where he started as a journalist in 2013. He has since he worked his way up to managing editor and is now an executive editor. He edits content for several B2B publications across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He also writes feature content for trade publications for the insurance and mortgage industries.
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