The UK building society is trialling new branch opening hours during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationwide is opening its branches an hour early to help the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.
The government is expected to shortly announce that those over 70 should self-isolate for up to three months. This would make it difficult for them to use banking services, as they are typically located on busy high streets. Older people are also less likely to use internet banking.
Nationwide says that branches will open from 8am, instead of the usual 9am, to support people aged 70 or over and those with underlying health conditions.
It says that the trial will begin from Wednesday 18 March at more than 100 branches across the UK.
Older and vulnerable customers will be able to use the facilities first, benefiting from enhanced cleaning that branches will undergo each evening, and before they open to the wider membership from their usual opening times.
If the trial is successful and there is a need, Nationwide will consider such hours across more branches of its 650-network.
Mandy Beech, Nationwide’s branch network director, says: “We understand the current situation is likely to hit the elderly and vulnerable the hardest, not only because of the higher risk of catching coronavirus, but also through potentially feeling isolated from the wider world should this issue continue for a longer period.
“That is why we are trialling a specific opening time for our older and most vulnerable members. We know that, in many instances, these are the people who most value and benefit from face-to-face service when they manage their money. In some cases, it may also be one of the only interactions they have each day.
“We also know that many older people rely on public transport. As such, we would ask local authorities and the government to consider whether they could temporarily enable use of free bus passes for older people before 9.30am, in addition to relaxing parking rules in local high streets at the start of the day.”
Royal Bank of Scotland has said that it will defer mortgage and loan payments for up to three months for those affected by the coronavirus.
TSB is also giving customers repayment holidays for up to two months.
Both RBS and TSB will waive early closure charges on fixed-rate bank accounts to allow customers to access their cash if they face financial difficulty owing to coronavirus.
Customers affected by the coronavirus will be able to get refunds on credit card cash advance fees. They will also be able to increase credit card cash withdrawals on their credit cards up to £500 and temporarily increase their credit card limit.
This article was originally written by our sister magazine Moneywise.