Nationwide Building Society has promised that it will not repossess any borrower’s homes over the next 12 months as part of a packet of measures to support customers.

The lender’s chairman and non-executive directors have also pledged to donate 20 percent of their net earnings from June to December to the housing charity Shelter to pay for additional advisers.

Nationwide says it will offer borrowers flexibility around repayments, which may include temporarily moving onto interest-only.

Alongside other lenders it will be extending the payment holidays by a further three months where this is deemed to be the most appropriate option.

However, it says that in some circumstances a payment break may not be in borrower’s best interests so it will suggest alternatives.

Nationwide is writing to landlords to encourage them to pass on payment breaks to tenants where these are required and reminding them that they may pause their mortgage payments if necessary.

YouGov research commissioned by Nationwide shows more than a fifth of homeowners are worried they will not be able to keep paying their mortgage, while 14 per cent fear they will lose their home.

Worries are even higher for tenants, with more than a quarter concerned that they will not be able to meet their rent payments, while 18 per cent fear losing their home. 

Through its partnership with Shelter, Nationwide will fund more advisers to provide specialist advice to those with housing, debt and welfare issues. 

The building society is also supporting the introduction of new Shelter community engagement officers, who will provide outreach for those people that struggle to access support. 

The lender is joining calls by Shetler and the Money Advice Trust for reforms to the Local Housing Allowance to ensure that it covers the 50th percentile of rents in any given area rather than the current 30th percentile as is the case currently.

Nationwide chief executive Joe Garner says: “There is a real need to reassure people, particularly those on mortgage payment breaks who are worried what will happen next. 

“At a time when people are concerned about their jobs, bills and health, we want to do everything possible to ensure they don’t worry about having a roof over their heads. 

“As a mutual, founded to help people into a home of their own, this is what building societies have always been about. We hope this additional support will provide extra flexibility to those who most need it, to help get them back on track.”

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate says: “Nationwide has been supporting Shelter in its fight against bad housing and homelessness for nearly 20 years now, and we are hugely grateful for their generous donation today, which will help to keep our essential frontline services going when they are needed most.

“Our emergency helpline has already seen a sharp rise in calls from people dealing with a wide range of housing and homelessness problems related to covid-19.

“We have heard from renters who have suddenly lost their jobs and cannot make ends meet, to frightened families stuck sofa-surfing when they should be safe at home.”