Joanita Wibowo

Money & Banking

Westpac to pay one year off mortgages for fire-affected customers

Westpac to pay one year off mortgages for fire-affected customers

Westpac has announced that it will pay one year off the mortgages for customers who lost their homes this bushfire season.

Customers who took out mortgages through the bank will have their repayments paid for up to $1,200 per month over a period of one year, acting chief executive Peter King said.

“These initiatives are designed to provide practical, on the ground support for our customers, our people and for those who are caring for affected communities,” King said in a statement.

“In times of such unprecedented devastation, we want customers and communities to know we’re here to help alleviate financial concerns so they can rebuild their lives, homes and businesses.”

Customers who need to rebuild their place of residence will also be eligible for interest free home loans through the Bushfire Recovery Support Package, while businesses may access low-interest loans.

The initiative is Westpac’s latest effort to support bushfire-affected communities. Last week, the bank announced a $1.5 million Bushfire Fund, including emergency grants of up to $2,000 for temporary accommodation, food and clothing.

There have been 10,550 insurance claims valued at $939 million lodged with Westpac as of Friday, the bank said.

All four major banks have announced disaster relief packages. Commonwealth Bank and NAB each established a $1 million bushfire relief fund, while ANZ pledged $500,000 to support affected home loan customers and local community services.

Westpac estimated that the bushfire crisis will cost Australia $5 billion in direct losses and chip the country’s economic growth by 0.2 to 0.5 per cent.