Nationwide plans to launch a free helpline to help customers struggling with the cost of living crisis

Nationwide plans to launch a free helpline to help customers struggling with the cost of living crisis.

It will also begin to “screen” customers who are showing clear signs of financial trouble.

The mutual, which has 16 million members, wants account holders to seek help as early as possible if they have money problems.

Helping hand: Owned by 16 million members, Nationwide wants account holders to get help as early as possible if they have money problems

With interest rates, energy bills and food prices rising, lenders are bracing for a painful squeeze on household budgets, which could lead to a surge in bad debt and late payments.

Nationwide says specially trained staff will respond to a dedicated hotline within ten minutes.

They’ll also contact customers if they spot early signs of stretched finances, such as overdrafts, late credit card bills or dwindling savings.

Both services will start next month and are in addition to Nationwide’s existing collection and recovery operations.

The building society’s new chief executive, Debbie Crosby, recently pledged to keep a branch open in every town or city that already has one until at least 2024.

“We’re here to help and make it as easy as possible for people to get the right support when they’re worried about their finances,” she said.

“That’s why we provide expert help from our branches, and now through a new hotline, as well as by video.”

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