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Bereaved families being denied mortgage holidays

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bereaved families being denied mortgage holidays

Struggling homeowners are being refused more time off mortgage payments, despite the banks being under orders to support customers through the pandemic.

Banking trade body UK Finance insists ‘all customers’ can put off mortgage payments if they ask for help. 

But brokers say those in need are increasingly being denied – especially if they are requesting their second mortgage holiday.

31564562 0 image a 24 1596570803714

31564562 0 image a 24 1596570803714

Banking trade body UK Finance insists ‘all customers’ can put off mortgage payments if they ask for help. But brokers say those in need are increasingly being denied

At the start of lockdown, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said homeowners struggling due to coronavirus could have a three-month payment break on their mortgage. 

And in May it announced borrowers could get a further three-month extension to October.

The regulator also told banks it expected them to support customers who need help.

In the first three months of lockdown, more than 1.9 million mortgage holidays were granted. 

Of these, 1.2 million were approved in the first three weeks. But three months on, experts say lenders are taking a tougher line.

When Kat Chadwick’s husband died of coronavirus in April she applied for a three-month mortgage holiday on their home in Rochdale. For the past three years she had been a carer to Philip, 77, who had Parkinson’s.

Last week she asked for a three-month extension to let her get back on her feet.

Kat, 57, and her late husband put their second home on the market in February to allow them to pay off both mortgages. But after the property market froze following the virus crisis, the couple were unable to sell.

Halifax did not offer Kat any support this time.

She says: ‘Unlike the furloughed workers, I don’t have 80 per cent wages and I also don’t have anybody to rely on for help.

‘I feel crushed in every possible way — emotionally, physically and now financially.’ Following Money Mail’s involvement, Halifax apologised and agreed to grant Kat an extension.

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Retail sales rise for fourth month as economy shows signs of recovery

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retail sales rise for fourth month as economy shows signs of recovery

Households continued to splash out last month as the economy showed signs of recovery after lockdown.

Retail sales rose by 0.8 per cent in August, according to the Office for National Statistics, putting them 4 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.

It was the fourth month of rising sales in a row – boosted by demand for DIY products and other household goods.

Retail sales rose by 0.8 per cent in August, according to the Office for National Statistics, putting them 4 per cent above pre-pandemic levels

Retail sales rose by 0.8 per cent in August, according to the Office for National Statistics, putting them 4 per cent above pre-pandemic levels

Retail sales rose by 0.8 per cent in August, according to the Office for National Statistics, putting them 4 per cent above pre-pandemic levels 

But Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: ‘Overall, the switch to greater online sales means the High Street remains under pressure.’

The ONS report showed that online sales are 46.8 per cent up since February.

There has also been strong demand for household goods – up 9.9 per cent since February – as families carried out home improvements.

With fresh restrictions across England being considered again, industry figures yesterday warned they could be in for more pain.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers were in ‘a period of fragile recovery’.

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Shares tank on fears of another lockdown within weeks

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shares tank on fears of another lockdown within weeks

Shares in companies that would suffer in a second lockdown plunged as ministers warned ‘circuit-break’ restrictions could come into force within weeks.

Firms in every corner of the economy were hit by the warnings with airlines, engineering groups and banks leading the fallers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was ‘seeing the start of a second wave’ of the pandemic as another 4,322 coronavirus cases and 27 deaths were reported in the UK.

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33354086 8748953 image m 18 1600458890631

Warning: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was ‘seeing the start of a second wave’ of the pandemic as another 4,322 coronavirus cases and 27 deaths were reported in the UK

The Government is now considering a partial ‘circuit-break’ lockdown for two or more weeks across the whole of England, which could include asking some hospitality businesses to close and limiting the opening hours of some pubs and restaurants nationwide. 

But business leaders have warned that another lockdown could ‘cripple’ the already-fragile economy just as it has started to recover.

Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘While protection of public health must be the priority, government should do everything in its power to avoid further national lockdowns that will cripple businesses.’

Ryanair grounds flights 

Ryanair will further reduce its operations due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The budget airline said its capacity in October will be 40 per cent of 2019 levels, compared with the 50 per cent it previously announced. 

The firm said it expects to fill 70pc of seats on its planes. A Ryanair spokesman said: ‘While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from November to March), if current trends and EU governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period.’

It is thought the restrictions will come in over the half-term break – which would dash any hopes of an autumn holiday for families.

It would also threaten weakening consumer confidence even further at a time when the economy was getting back to normality.

Shares in British Airways-owner IAG plunged 14.6 per cent, or 18.9p, to 110.55p, making it the largest faller on the FTSE 100 index.

Holiday Inn-owner Intercontinental Hotels Group tumbled 4.5 per cent, or 194p, to 4137p, while Premier Inn-owner Whitbread slid 2.4 per cent, or 53p, to 2200p.

On the FTSE 250 Easyjet slumped 9.2 per cent, or 54.6p, to 539.6p, while cruise operator Carnival sank a further 7.9 per cent, or 81.4p, to 947.6p. 

Travel and tourism companies have been among the hardest hit in the crisis after the pandemic brought global air travel virtually to a standstill through spring and the early summer. 

Airlines were further pummelled by confusing and last-minute quarantines being imposed on many popular summer holiday destinations – and are now having to row back their tentative autumn schedules even further.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘The Government wants to avoid economic disruption, but clearly a return to tighter lockdown measures next month would disrupt businesses and put further pressure on jobs.’

Shares in British Airways-owner IAG plunged 14.6 per cent, or 18.9p, to 110.55p, making it the largest faller on the FTSE 100 index

Shares in British Airways-owner IAG plunged 14.6 per cent, or 18.9p, to 110.55p, making it the largest faller on the FTSE 100 index

Shares in British Airways-owner IAG plunged 14.6 per cent, or 18.9p, to 110.55p, making it the largest faller on the FTSE 100 index

Engineering groups that supply airlines with parts and engines were also put under pressure.

Shares at Rolls-Royce dived 5.1 per cent, or 9.75p, to 180.15p, while GKN-owner Melrose fell 3.4 per cent, or 4.25p, to 120p.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: ‘The continued reduction by airlines to their flight schedules puts more pressure on Rolls-Royce’s cash flow as they get paid in line with how much time aircraft are actually in the air.’

Kate Nicholls, the boss of UK Hospitality, said the sector was still on a ‘knife edge’.

Wagamama-owner The Restaurant Group lost 2.4 per cent, or 1.35p, to close at 54.65p, while train station and airport café operator SSP fell 3.1 per cent, or 6.2p, to 196.2p.

There was further pressure on banks after traders were spooked this week by talk of negative interest rates. Fears are rising that negative interest rates might be one of the only policy tools left in politicians’ arsenals to fight Covid.

HSBC ended down 2.2 per cent, or 6.8p, at 304p last night, while Lloyds fell 3.9 per cent, or 1.01p, to 25.24p, and Natwest fell 3.2 per cent, or 3.17p, at 96.88p.

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Covid-hit Gemfields plunges to £50m loss

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covid hit gemfields plunges to 50m loss

Gemfields swung to a loss as Covid-19 shut its mines and cancelled crucial gem auctions.

The Faberge owner and precious stones miner, which has counted celebrities such as actor Mila Kunis (pictured) among its celebrity ambassadors, said turnover had tumbled 83 per cent to £16million in the first six months of the year. 

And the ruby and emerald specialist racked up a loss of £50.1million, down from a profit of £16million in the same period of last year. 

Sales slump: Faberge-owner Gemfields, which has counted celebrities such as actor Mila Kunis (pictured) among its celebrity ambassadors, said turnover had tumbled 83 per cent

Sales slump: Faberge-owner Gemfields, which has counted celebrities such as actor Mila Kunis (pictured) among its celebrity ambassadors, said turnover had tumbled 83 per cent

Sales slump: Faberge-owner Gemfields, which has counted celebrities such as actor Mila Kunis (pictured) among its celebrity ambassadors, said turnover had tumbled 83 per cent

Between January and June it only managed to hold one gemstone auction, in Zambia, where it raised £9million selling emeralds. 

It is trying to arrange online auctions but is not sure when this will be up and running. And it has scrapped financial guidance as a result of the pandemic’s hit.

The company has been forced to write down the value of its Faberge arm by £9million, after seeing a ‘significant reduction’ in sales as well as a ‘less positive outlook on the global luxury goods and retail sectors’.

The torrid six months included rejoining the London Stock Exchange’s junior market on Valentine’s Day.

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