Banks can use their discretion to offer their customers various support in the case of difficulties due to COVID-19. If you are experiencing financial difficulties you are encouraged to contact your bank to discuss how they may be able to help.
Local banks that currently have a dedicated COVID-19 information page are as follows:
- Barclays Bank
- Conister Bank
- Isle of Man Bank
- Lloyds Bank International
- Natwest International
- Santander International
- Standard Bank International
Visiting your bank
Banks are currently only providing essential services to their customers through publicly accessible branches, while operating strict social distancing to protect both their clients, staff and the wider community.
The Isle of Man Bankers’ Association recently issued guidance to consumers, stating that essential services include:
- Help if you are in need of additional support or are facing financial difficulties (although online and telephone solutions should be used first if possible);
- Paying in of cash and cheques (for example where such money is urgently needed to be deposited to meet daily living or other expenses, or where the cheque would otherwise become out of date being 6 months from date of issue);
- In exceptional circumstances withdrawing cash, for example if you cannot use an ATM for the withdrawal or need to urgently withdraw more than the ATM limit.
Customers are also reminded to:
- Only visit branch premises in case of absolute necessity as part of the Government’s wider advice to “stay at home”;
- Use digital channels as much as possible such as mobile banking, internet banking, and telephone banking – this also applies for enquiries about support schemes such as payment holidays;
- Try to minimise the use of cash, to avoid having to go to the branch or use ATMs.
For further information on banking essential services and banks’ opening times, please visit your bank’s website directly.
Bank support packages
Mortgage Repayment Holiday
Isle of Man Bank, Santander International, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, Nedbank Private Wealth International and Cayman National Bank are providing a Mortgage Repayment Holiday to existing customers who have fallen into financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The support package will offer relief to homeowners who will be able to suspend repayments for up to three months on a residential mortgage.
To find out more about the Mortgage Repayment Holiday, contact your mortgage lender directly to discuss.
Coronavirus Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Agreement
The Isle of Man Isle of Man Disruption Loan Guarantee Agreement is a loan facility that has been introduced for local businesses that are facing financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays, Conister Bank and RBSI (including Natwest and the Isle of Man Bank) are supporting the Agreement, and will be offering up to £60 million of new lending, 80% of which will be underwritten by the Isle of Man Government.
The Agreement will support overdraft and term-lending facilities of up to £500,000 as well as asset financing facilities. The Agreement, which is for Isle of Man registered businesses with a turnover of up to £10million, will also enable eligible businesses to access six year term loans with Isle of Man Government-backed guarantees.
Find out more about the Disruption Loan Guarantee Agreement, including features and eligibility.
In the Isle of Man, employees are eligible for Incapacity Benefit if they become sick and are unable to work. To substantiate a claim, you are now able to self-certify for a period of 14 days, regardless of whether your symptoms relate to COVID-19 or not.
If your employer asks you not to come into work when you are otherwise well, then you are effectively suspended and should be paid as though you are working normally unless your employer has a contractual right to withhold pay.
Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA)
The Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA) provides an income of £200 per week to people who have been temporarily or permanently laid off, or lost their self-employed work, since 2 March 2020, subject to certain qualifying conditions being satisfied.
It was introduced on 6 April 2020 and has been extended to 20 September 2020. Those who have previously received a grant under the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme are also eligible to apply.
Employees must have been earning at least £200 per week, on average, in at least 13 of the 26 weeks prior to the date they make their claim for MERA.
Office of Fair Trading and Debt Counselling
For those who find themselves in financial difficulty, the confidential Debt Counselling Service remains available to all residents.
The service, run by the Isle of Man Government’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT), gives people the opportunity to talk to a specialist debt counsellor about their financial concerns.
Further guidance on budgeting is available in a free booklet which is available by contacting the Debt Counselling Service or can be found online.