The nation’s peak banking body says nearly all Aussies whose loans were placed in deep freeze because of the coronavirus pandemic have now resumed repayments.
Figures from the Australian Banking Association show 97 per cent of the those with home and business loans suspended during the crisis had started paying them back — a sign households and firms are recovering from the economic downturn.
ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said Wednesday marked one year since Australia’s banks offered loan deferrals due to COVID-19.
“Over the past year, banks have cushioned the blow for their customers,” Ms Bligh said. “Through 2021, their priority is helping customers rebuild and get ahead.”
The ABA said banks would continue to support customers facing financial difficulty, particularly for industries such as tourism and aviation, which are yet to bounce back from the lockdown.
About 29,000 loans are still paused across the four major banks — 22,480 home loans and 2800 business loans.
The deferral period will end on March 31, with banks set to tailor assistance to customers still impacted.
Ms Bligh said customers facing hardship should contact their bank immediately.
“The latest loan deferral figures show that while the vast majority are back on their feet, some
customers are still struggling,” she said.
“These customers should talk to their bank now about the path ahead. Banks are ready to take the call.”
Other support from banks has included credit rating protection, merchant fee waivers and landlord and tenant support.
A number of lenders also paused credit card and personal loan repayments.
Australia’s bank chief executives are scheduled to meet in Canberra on Wednesday for the quarterly ABA council meeting, which will outline the sector’s ongoing response to the crisis.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers will attend the meeting, where they are expected to discuss cyber security threats and ways to combat money laundering.
“Wednesday’s meeting is an opportunity to ensure that all banks are pulling in the same direction in the interests of their customers and the Australian economy,” Ms Bligh said.