News & Blog
News stories from the Chamber and related news are listed in the table below
RBS Covid-19 Update
23rd April 2020
This is the latest update on what the bank is doing to help customers, colleagues, communities and the country as a whole face into the crisis and work together to ensure there is a solid foundation to build a strong recovery on. When our new CEO Alison Rose announced her strategy in early February, she set out an ambition to create a purpose-led organisation to support people, families and businesses. This is now more relevant than ever. While we may not get everything right all the time, I hope the below update shows that we are working hard to do everything we can to support customers and the economy as a whole.
On support for business as of April 15th we have now approved around 4,500 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) applications and we continue to do more than any other bank. Our lending starts at £5,000 - the lowest of the large banks - and we led the way by not taking Personal Guarantees, as we know this isn’t business as usual. Our teams worked over the Easter weekend to process CBILS applications. As a result, the vast majority of our customers (85%) are now getting a call back within a day.
The Chancellor has also just announced an expansion of the government-backed loan scheme. The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CLBILS) will be launched on Monday for all viable firms with a turnover of more than £45 million (who will be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance) and companies with a turnover of more than £250 million (who will be able to apply for up to £50 million of finance). As we have done with CBILS, we are supporting that scheme fully.
On support for our Personal customers we have processed more than 100,000 mortgage repayment holidays, proactively reached out to over 228,000 customers over the age of 70 who don’t have access to digital banking to check on their welfare and our dedicated helplines for NHS, vulnerable and self-isolating customers have received more than 31,000 calls since they were set up. We also support LINK’s 12 month pledge to maintain free-to-use ATMs if they risk closing or switching to pay-to-use as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
On general issues £3 million has so far been raised for the National Emergencies Trust through customer donations from their Reward accounts and our match funding.
And finally, The NatWest Prince’s Trust Enterprise Relief Fund to support young entrepreneurs through this difficult time has received more than 2,500 notes of interest since launch last week. We’ve donated £5 million to the Fund to help 18-30-year olds get grants and tailored support.
REMINDER OF PROGRESS SO FAR
- We saw more calls in a single day after the government schemes went live than we normally see in an average month and the call levels have remained extremely high. Our debt management operations normally take 3000 calls a day but are now receiving as many as 25,000 calls a day.
- Many of our colleagues worked over the Easter Holidays to drive down customer waiting times.
- We have doubled the size of our call centre team from 200 to 400 to support our business customers as quickly as we can and to deal with the exceptionally high volumes.
- We’ve redeployed and retrained hundreds of staff to support our colleagues on the front line to help ease the pressure on our telephony centres.
- We have processed more than 100,000 mortgage repayment holidays. This compares to 5 a day pre-COVID-19.
- Our dedicated helplines for NHS, vulnerable and self-isolating customers have received around 31,000 calls since they were set up.
- We have enabled more than 4,500 telephony colleagues to work from home in the last 3 weeks. In total around 50,000 colleagues are now working from home.
- We have now approved around 4,500 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) applications and we continue to do more than any other bank.
- Our lending starts at £5,000 the lowest of the large banks and we led the way by not taking Personal Guarantees, as we know this isn’t business as usual. Our teams worked over the Easter weekend to process CBILS applications. As a result, the vast majority of our customers (85%) are now getting a call back within a day.
- At the larger end, we are doing everything we can to support those companies that play a key role in the economy and employ such large numbers with NatWest having facilitated more than £2bn of drawdowns a significant proportion of Bank of England drawdowns.
- We have processed more than 100,000 mortgage repayment holidays. On application, we let customers know that if their payment was due in the next 14 days, we may not be able to stop the payment. We have e-mailed customers affected to let them know that they will still benefit from the full 3 month offering, but this will run May – July.
- We have removed late credit card payment fees.
- Frozen overdraft interest rates at current levels for personal customers for at least three months and removing all other overdraft fees and charges.
- And in line with the FCA’s announcement on loan and credit card relief we are extending our support to include a £500 interest-free overdraft buffer and three-month repayment deferral on credit cards. Customers should apply online at Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank NI.
- Passed on the Bank of England base rate decreases to mortgage customers.
- Vulnerable customers and NHS workers now have the option to get cash delivered securely to their home address.
- Colleagues behind our Customer Care lines can now also issue a code over the phone which customers can give to a friend, neighbour or volunteer to withdraw an agreed amount of cash from an ATM within the next three hours.
- Backed LINK’s 12 month pledge to maintain free-to-use ATMs if they risk closing or switching to pay-to-use as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
- Proactively reached out to over 228,000 customers over the age of 70 who don’t have access to digital banking to check on their welfare and find out how we can support them.
- Vulnerable and self-isolating customers have received more than 31,000 calls since they were set up.
- Much of our branch network remains open and we’re prioritising core opening hours from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 1pm.
- We are running a public awareness campaign to provide our customers and communities with relevant advice and support to help protect themselves against coronavirus scams.
- Our colleagues in the bank are working incredibly hard, in difficult circumstances, and are facing many of the same concerns around health, family support and wellbeing as the rest of the population.
- We continue to increase the number of colleagues who can work from home including those who don’t usually work from home due to the nature of their role. In total around 50,000 colleagues are now working from home.
- We’ve taken significant measures to keep colleagues and customers safe. For example, only two customers in the banking hall at any time, making sure all colleagues and customers remain 2 metres apart, prioritising the elderly and the vulnerable and highlighting digital options for transactions.
- We’ve reduced working hours in our branches with no reduction in what we pay our branch colleagues
- To support Key Workers who continue to travel to work to our branches, telephony centres and those who support our critical systems and services, we are funding reasonable costs for car parking and/or taxis to get to work should their usual public transport become unavailable or unsuitable (e.g. over-crowded).
- We’ve launched a Wellbeing Hub for all colleagues as we recognise the importance of health and wellbeing in our colleagues’ personal and work life during such a period of uncertainty. This includes a new virtual GP service for colleagues.
- We have updated our overtime arrangements for our appointed and certain managerial colleagues.
Our CEO Alison Rose will donate 25% of her fixed pay for the rest of 2020 to the National Emergencies Trust and has asked not to be considered for any variable pay for this year. (Alison is eligible for variable pay up to a maximum of £1,925,000).
We have cancelled our final dividend payments for 2019 and will not make any further dividend payments or undertake share buy backs during 2020.
- Match funding donations made by our customers to the National Emergencies Trust, contributing a total donation of up to £10 million. £3 million has been raised so far from customers and our matched donations.
- We have set up the NatWest Prince’s Trust Enterprise Relief Fund to support young entrepreneurs through this difficult time. We’ve donated £5 million to the Fund to help 18-30 year olds get grants and tailored support and there has been more than 2,500 notes of interest since launch last week
- More than £1 million to help 8 not-for-profit, debt management partners including PayPlan, StepChange, Money Advice Trust, Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Advice Scotland, Christians Against Poverty and Advice NI.
- Using our HQ at Gogarburn in Edinburgh as a food bank distribution hub for Social Bite and Trussell Trust charities.
We are doing everything we can to support our colleagues and are moving quickly to get solutions in place so we can help customers as fast and as accurately as possible. Anything you can do to assist us would be most welcome including ensuring those most in need are helped first, promoting the support measures we have put in place and sharing our customer support content via social media channels (@RBS_Help and @Natwest_Help) to drive better awareness.