Hardship loan deferrals triple in numbers

By Gerard Cockburn
Bank loan deferrals triple in wake of Delta outbreak. Picture: Karleen Minney

Ongoing lockdowns have sparked a surge in the number of loan deferrals from customers claiming financial hardship.

Latest figures from the Australian Banking Association shows 57,000 hardship claims were lodged across the banking sector for the month of August, a 37,000 jump compared to July.

Home loan deferrals for the period grew to more than 27,000, while the number of business loan deferrals spiked from 600 to more than 3500.

According to the ABA, home loan deferrals make up 88 per cent of all deferrals lodged across the sector.

The number is still well below the peak assistance period in 2020 which saw over one million home and business loan customers putting the brakes on repayments because of the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said persisting lockdowns were fuelling the rise in loan repayment deferrals.

"As lockdowns continue to be extended across cities and states, it is no surprise more strain is being put on people and businesses but it is important to remember that banks are here to help," Ms Bligh said.

"Over the last month, we have seen a substantial rise in business owners putting their hand up for assistance, and I encourage anyone else who is feeling the strain to do the same."

Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB, Suncorp and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are some financial providers offering tailored support to customers impacted by lockdowns.

ABA data shows New South Wales makes up the bulk of the hardship claims and then followed by Victoria.

In the ACT 876 hardship approvals occurred in August, with 349 home loan repayments deferred and 53 business loan deferrals.

"Support is available to all small businesses and home loan customers significantly impacted by current lockdowns or recovering from recent lockdowns, no matter where they live or their line of work," Ms Bligh said.

"The sooner you talk to your bank, the sooner they can help you find a solution that is right for you."

Both the ACT and federal governments have rolled up support grants to businesses and disaster payments for workers.

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