How we help members with financial difficulties
We’re committed to helping our members avoid debt and supporting them through financial challenges.
This area of our website offers information about some the things we do as a responsible business. If you need help with financial difficulties please visit our money worries page.
What's on this page
Helping members to avoid debt
As a responsible lender, we have a responsibility to our members to:
- be open and honest
- treat them fairly
- be safe and secure.
These principles are behind everything we do. The way we lend money is no exception.
Making sure borrowing is affordable
All our product and lending criteria are designed to meet member needs. It’s important that we don’t add to the financial burden on our members. Using all appropriate credit assessment techniques available to us, we assess members’ ability to make regular payments.
We share credit data with (approved) credit reference agencies, who may in turn share data with other lenders and organisations under strict rules. This both improves the quality of our decisions and reduces the risk of members becoming over-committed. We treat personal information confidentially and in accordance with data protection legislation.
We offer members the ability to place a limit on further borrowing. This ensures finances aren’t over-stretched while allowing for some increase in expenditure.
We make every effort to ensure our products remain competitively priced and:
- are committed to promoting them in a balanced way
- provide clear information on the cost of borrowing and any fees and charges up front
- give reasonable notice of interest rate and payment changes.
Supporting members with persistent debt
Persistent debt is when a member pays more in interest, fees and charges on their credit card than they’ve repaid of the amount borrowed for a sustained period. If a member finds themselves in persistent debt, we contact them to describe the steps they can take to resolve the debt, including how to reduce the interest, fees and charges they would otherwise incur.
The Nationwide Incubator and Open Banking for Good programme
Nationwide as a mutual is committed to being a responsible business for both its members and wider society. To this end, Nationwide has been addressing challenges that relate to living in financial difficulty. Leveraging our expertise and relationships, we’ve worked with experts from charities and Government organisations to identify these challenges.
In 2019 we ran Open Banking for Good, a programme where we funded FinTech start-ups to work with experts from charities and Nationwide. We adopted a collaborative approach and committed to generating learning throughout.
The programme successfully delivered Open Banking powered solutions to issues relating to:
- income and expenditure
- smoothing of irregular income
- support for money management, and
- help with mental health.
In 2021 we launched the Nationwide Incubator (opens in a new window) in partnership with Fair By Design (opens in a new window), which aims to identify and address the challenges faced by people living in financial difficulty. It addresses aspects of the Poverty Premium (opens in a new window), where the poorest pay more for essential goods and services.
We’re committed to sharing our Grounded Innovation approach to social innovation with all interested parties. We’ve already shared with the Government, charitable foundations and other financial services organisations committed to social responsibility.
Specialist support service
Our confidential, specialist support service helps members manage their accounts during challenging times. This includes support to talk through finances for members living with, or recovering from, an illness (like cancer, depression or anxiety) or while caring for a loved one. Our dedicated team helps members to find a way forward, whether they’re already in arrears or worried they might miss a payment.
Members facing or in financial difficulties
Nationwide is committed to helping our members who may anticipate or find themselves experiencing a period of financial difficulty. We will always be sympathetic and support our members, offering a range of forbearance options that are tailored to their individual circumstances and what they can afford. We have an experienced, dedicated team who will work with the member to establish if the financial difficulties are short or long term to find an affordable sustainable solution to achieve a fair outcome.
Online income and expenditure
We’ve created the ability for a member to share their income and expenditure details online providing a clear picture of their finances. This means we can have a shorter productive conversation with the member and establish a fair outcome based on their circumstances and what they can afford.
Where a member is in debt across multiple organisations, we will sign post them for free money advice. We work closely with StepChange Debt Charity and PayPlan who will support the member in managing their debts in one place.
We have a seamless referral journey in place allowing members to interact using their chosen method of communication and at a time that works for them.
Many of our members who struggle financially are unaware of benefits they’re entitled to. We work with community interest company, IncomeMax (opens in a new window), to help members in financial difficulty:
- find ways to increase income
- reduce bills
- access charitable grants
- contact Government departments
- complete claim forms
- resolve incorrect benefit decisions.
Since working with Nationwide, IncomeMax has helped members access over £1.25 million of extra income (data from IncomeMax). Our colleagues are always happy to discuss financial difficulties or concerns with our members, but not everyone is comfortable talking to someone about this. To help, we have an automated service on our website, called Policy in Practice, to drive awareness and action of the benefits and grants for which they may be eligible. The tool is available for anyone to use, without the need for human intervention. Try the Policy in Practice Benefit and Budgeting Calculator (opens in a new window).
Helping members with debts to other creditors
When we are helping members who are struggling with debts to multiple creditors we refer them to PayPlan or StepChange, who can support with a range of debt solutions and advice.