Australian banks have deferred the repayments of one in fourteen mortgages to assist home borrowers through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of 16 May 2020, 429,000 mortgages had been deferred totalling $153.5bn, according to the Australian Banking Association (ABA).
Overall, the total number of loans deferred within Australia rests at 703,000, worth a value of $211bn.
“Banks are here to support customers throughout the crisis and help the economy on the other side as we recover from the devastating effects of this pandemic," said ABA CEO Anna Bligh.
As part of this effort, banks across Australia have hired 1,500 new recruits and redeployed over 2,200 staff to “frontline areas” such as call centres, in order to help meet the surge in demand for support over the last few months.
NAB alone has just added 500 employees to its customer support team, bringing the total number of people brought on to directly support customers during the crisis to over 1,000.
According to NAB chief customer experience officer, Rachel Slade, the group's bankers have begun the process of checking in with customers who secured a repayment pause on their home loan to get a firsthand understanding of their situation.
“The past few months have been incredibly difficult for so many Australians, and this is an opportunity for us to speak to customers who have requested a payment pause and check how they are doing,” Slade said.
“The deferral has provided some immediate and much-needed relief, but if customers are able to make payments again, we will be encouraging them to do so. We don’t want our customers to be in debt any longer than they need. We want our customers to choose what’s best for them.
“Already in the past week, we’ve had hundreds of customers proactively contact us to reverse their home loan deferrals and resume making payments because they felt ready to do so.”
In its calls to customers, NAB will outline the current position of the customer’s home loan, the future impact of the repayment pause on their loan balance, and discuss possible plans for the months ahead.
“We know many of our customers will continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 for a long time and our expanded team will mean we can be available to support them through this,” Slade said.