Permanent pay increase for more than 22,000 colleagues globally, averaging £1,000. For those in the UK, a 4% salary increase for those who earn less that £32,000.
The continued rise in the cost of living is impacting people, families, and businesses in the UK. Although some households and businesses built up savings and liquidity through the pandemic, many are already feeling the strain.
According to the latest analysis from NatWest, customer spending on critical items such as utilities is up just over 30% year on year - and fuel is up by almost 20%. NatWest also found that 67% of customers on the lowest incomes are now spending more than 10% of their monthly incomings on energy.
Following consultation with strategic partners, NatWest is launching a package of support for customers, colleagues and communities to help with the rising cost of living.
£1m funding to Citizens Advice will support their ‘Help through Hardship’ helpline, which established during the pandemic with Trussell Trust, and in pilot with MIND. The helpline offers personalised debt advice and support to help address the underlying causes of hardship, as well as providing referrals to food banks and mental health support, if they are needed.
Funding to debt charity, StepChange, of £2million over two years, will fund 12 advisors a year to support NatWest business customers struggling with their personal debts, as well as the rising cost of living.
A further £1m unrestricted donation to help the debt advice and specialist charity sector respond to the rise in support needed for cost of living will be split between the Money Advice Trust, PayPlan, StepChange,and other specialist charities.
Alongside the funding, NatWest Group will have proactively contacted over 2.7 million personal and business banking customers by the end of July, offering support and information on cost of living. It has also launched an online Cost of Living hub to share resources and tools, and to inform customers of the support that is available through them and third parties.
In addition, the Bank has been taking action on a range of fees and charges for personal customers in financial difficulty and those receiving support from its Financial Health & Support team, this includes waiving fees on products where appropriate, to support a customer experiencing financial difficulty.
To support and provide certainty to SME customers in these challenging times, Business Current Accounts continue to remain available without a minimum charge, and the Bank is freezing the standard published tariffs on these accounts for the next 12 months – committing to not make any increases to these published fees. As a result, it has developed a tailored support package for its 40,000 agriculture customers, who are facing extreme impacts on supply costs and profit margins. Specifically, NatWest has announced a new £1.25billion lending package for UK farmers, alongside a range of supportive measures such as capital repayment holidays and increased overdraft limits to help tackle these challenges.
To ensure that as many SMEs as possible can realise the bottom-line benefits from their carbon-reduction efforts and innovation, the Bank has also reduced the lower threshold for its Green Loans offering for SMEs from £50,000 to £25,000, ensuring that more businesses can access funding to help transition to more sustainable practices, in turn reducing costs in the long term.
And it has launched ‘The Business Show’, offering practical advice from experts and business owners to customers and non-customers – supporting with all aspects of the cost of living.
The Money Advice Trust will continue to work with NatWest Group over the next few months to provide enhanced training to contact colleagues who support customers in financial difficulty to help them recognise the signs of customer vulnerability and to ensure that they can direct our customers to the teams that can best support them.
To provide sustainable, long-term support to those NatWest colleagues who are feeling the greatest impact from the increases in cost-of-living, NatWest Group last week announced a permanent increase in base pay averaging £1,000 for more than 22,000 staff members globally. In the UK, employees earning a full-time equivalent salary of £32,000 or less will receive a 4% salary increase.
Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest Group, said:
“The continued rise in the cost of living is impacting people, families, and businesses throughout the UK, many of whom haven’t experienced rising rates and inflationary pressures before. We want to support our customers, colleagues and communities in a proactive and purposeful way, just as we did during the pandemic. This package of measures is designed to support those who are likely to need it most.
“At NatWest, defaults remain low and we are not yet seeing an increase in the number of people in arrears, or who are contacting us for help. But there is no doubt that pressures are building and that the biggest challenges are yet to come. NatWest Group has a clear role to play in supporting customers and communities across the UK and we will continue to monitor and anticipate their needs to ensure we have the right measures in place.”
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“We are very grateful for the donation NatWest has made towards our Help through Hardship helpline, that we deliver in partnership with The Trussell Trust and MIND.
“The helpline has been in huge demand - over 180,000 people have accessed emergency food and up to £33million in estimated financial gains has been unlocked for callers.
"NatWest’s donation will help us to provide vital support to people facing hardship, sadly needed now more than ever as the cost-of-living crisis continues to unfold.”
The Bank has also been sharing its expertise in supporting customers in financial difficulty with the energy sector (Energy UK), to ensure that those in financial difficulty have their circumstances considered with compassion and empathy.
NatWest Group will continue to closely track changes in customer behaviour – for example, a move from debit to credit cards, or only paying a minimum credit card balance, or businesses not yet missing payments but expressing concern – and has teams on hand to proactively reach out and offer support as part of its pre-emptive support strategy.
The Bank urges anyone in financial difficulty to talk to their lender for support. Where they have debts with multiple lenders, free impartial debt advice is critical. NatWest can refer customers on to a range of partners for independent support.
This is for media use and not a financial promotion.
The £1.25bn lending package will deployed through a variety of routes, including Green Loans, conventional loans, asset finance and increased overdrafts.
Green Loans and Green Asset Finance:
Green Loans with no arrangement fee are open to applications from eligible UK businesses with an annual turnover of less than £25m (other than for eligible UK Real Estate Finance businesses for whom alternative eligibility criteria may apply) who are seeking to take out a loan to acquire assets that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank and subject to review and change on an ongoing basis. Security may be required. Fees (other than arrangement fees) may apply. Over 18s only. Subject to status, eligibility and approval. Business use only. Any property or asset used as security may be repossessed or forfeited if you do not keep up repayments on any debt secured on it. Failure to comply with the terms of the loan agreement could lead to an event of default under the loan and (depending on their terms) may also impact other facilities of the borrower. Terms apply.
NatWest Group Green Asset Finance is available to over 18s which meets the NatWest Group Climate and Sustainable Finance Inclusion Criteria for your business size. Security may be required. Fees (other than arrangement fees) may apply. Available to UK customers for business purposes only. Available for borrowing over £25,000 and less than £10 million. Subject to status, eligibility and approval.
For more information on Green Asset Finance visit:
Capital repayment holidays are subject to credit approval and it may take longer to repay the loan and cost more in the long run. Payments may also increase afterwards.
Business Loans & Overdrafts
Security may be required. Product fees may apply. Over 18s only. Subject to status, business use only. Any property or asset used as security may be repossessed or forfeited if you do not keep up repayments on any debt secured on it.