Darlington Building Society praised for member support during COVID-19 crisis
Darlington Building Society has been praised by Councillor Chris McEwan, Mayor of Darlington, and Seth Pearson, director of Darlington Partnership and Darlington Cares, for its moves to ease hardship and anxiety for customers, staff and local communities.
These measures include a pledge not to start any action to repossess a member’s home before 30 May 2021 if they are in arrears due to the pandemic, as long as they keep working with the society to get the mortgage back on track.
Darlington Building Society has also signed up to a pilot scheme called PACE, teaming up with Money Advice and Pensions (MAPS) to create a gold standard for free debt advice to members.
The society has agreed more than 800 payment deferrals for residential mortgage borrowers, as well as 23 for commercial borrowers.
When the Bank of England base rate was reduced twice in the first two months of lockdown, Darlington Building Society reduced its standard variable rate (SVR) by the full 0.65% for mortgage borrowers, and delayed rate reductions for savers for as long as possible.
Penalty fees have also been waived where members have had an urgent need to access their savings from fixed rate accounts.
Darlington Building Society also made it easier for loved ones to make financial arrangements following a bereavement.
Every branch has remained open for business throughout the pandemic, with opening now extended to Saturdays, while rules around third party withdrawals have been relaxed to help those unable to travel to branches.
Andrew Craddock, chief executive of Darlington Building Society, said: “Our members come first, and we want to ensure the right support is available during any period of personal disruption, ill health or financial difficulty arising from coronavirus.”
Councillor McEwan said: “We are clearly going to see increased anxiety amongst people because of the economic impact of coronavirus, and it is great to see an important local employer like Darlington Building Society doing what it can to ease the pressure on customers and staff and give them breathing space at this difficult time.”
Pearson added: “It has been wonderful to see communities coming together during these unprecedented times, and this important package of measures by Darlington Building Society will make a real difference to local people facing difficulties.”