New government warned: Housebuyers need your help

<em>Picture: Lou Murphy</em>
Picture: Lou Murphy

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has reported a drop in arrears and repossessions in England for the first quarter of the year. At the same time, it warned against complacency and joined the Building Societies Association and pressure groups, including the charity, Shelter, in writing to the new government asking it to help the thousands at risk of losing their homes.

In a joint letter to the new Chancellor, George Osborne, and the new Business Secretary, Vince Cable, they call for a clear commitment to extend current support measures for borrowers in most financial difficulty. They pointed out that the drop in repossessions was “deeply dependent on current low interest rates and the time-limited policy measures currently in place”.

As the letter explains: “There is a risk that higher interest rates or unemployment would tip into arrears a number of finely-balanced households who are currently coping, and would undermine the capacity of households struggling to get back on their feet.”

In the view of CML director general, Michael Coogan, while all eyes are on the new government and what steps it will take to address the economy, “we cannot emphasise too strongly the importance of continuing to fund the support mechanisms that are proving effective in containing mortgage arrears and repossessions.

“We are acutely conscious of the beneficial influence that low interest rates and the package of support have played so far. The dampening effects on households and the wider housing market that fiscal tightening is likely to exert are still to be felt, but it should be a key priority to support borrowers most in need and maintain funding for the government’s housing policies.”

To reinforce the point, Shelter commissioned a substantial survey from YouGov. Interviewing almost 4,500 people in Britain, it found that 29 per cent of mortgage holders had not thought about how they would pay their mortgage if interest rates go up – equivalent to 5.4 million adults across the country.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, warned: “Hundreds of thousands of homeowners desperately need the new government to continue the help that enables them to keep their home. Current support schemes are set to wind up at the end of the year but could be pulled away at any time, which will leave many people with no safety net and facing the real possibility of repossession.”

He added: “In addition, the Scottish Government must play its part in ensuring homeowners are kept in their homes where possible. They have done an important job by passing the Homeowner and Debtor Protection Act, which will require lenders, by law, to pursue every possible alternative before taking legal action in Scotland. But now ministers must ensure it is introduced as a matter of urgency.”

There are no figures available for repossession levels in Scotland. Shelter Scotland has repeatedly called for these to be collected and published.

  • Hugo

    The only people I have sympathy with are women whose husband/partner has decamped and left them with a mortgage, and probably a young family.

    As for the men, especially those with a young family, if they gambled by taking on a mortgage they could ill-afford then they should have known it was a gamble.

    If they take responsibility for their actions and say yes it was a bad decision, then I have sympathy.

    However, if they are cry-babies – as so many are- saying ‘how could I know I would be made redundant’ etc then I have no sympathy whatsoever when they lose their half million pound houses.

    Mind you, I come from an area where we 25% unemployment.

  • livilion

    I used to own one of those two bedroom flats in the Murray, East Kilbride illustrated in the picture.
    A year or so after I got married my new wife ‘insisted’ I buy it,(£28K) even though I hardly had two pennies to rub together and had been living as a batchellor quite happily before marrying her, in my own wee council flat.

    The reason ‘I’ was skint was not because of our combined earnings, we should’ve been quite comfortable, she’d been giving my wages to her sister to fund the brother in law’s drug habit. At one point I was living on cornflakes while she spent a parking fine I gave her to pay on a night out herself.

    When I got fed up with her boyfriend she shot the craw, leaving me to clear off her debts. For this privilege her solicitor also demanded an arm and both legs to be rid of her. Fortunately we never got on well enough after we married to have kids, my mistake was to take on a workshy, sullen lodger I’d mistaken for a wife.
    The cooking, cleaning and housework was left to me, I took over from her mother.

    That was when it was revealed that those coloured panels you can see in the picture are painted on asbestos, and that the wooden frames securing them were in fact rotten and falling apart.

    V.Long story shorter: I had to move to London for work(the Thatcher era, where I come from we got on our bikes to look for work) but was left paying a mortgage on an empty flat even the banks wouldn’t touch, I couldn’t give it away and I tried. For years I had to pay for a flat I couldn’t live in or sell AND pay for private rented accomodation in Hertfordshire, ie triple my mortgage repayment.

    The twist here is that my childless sister then left her husband and moved down to stay with me, free bed and board on account of the emotional stress of leaving her husband with hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt she’d run up feeding HER horsey habit, and also left him a ruined island croft she’d tried to convert into an equine centre. She added the nice touch of leaving him and presenting him with his final decree on Valentine’s day(think about it). The fact that she was earning more than me was offset in that she was my wee sister and, in my experience, as a woman had a natural gift for making money disappear.

    Of course by your logic this was all my own fault, for being born male. We deserve everything coming to us, simply for the rare honour of sharing a marital bed.

    Or was that just me?

    My brother took on a girl expecting another man’s baby, he eventually married her for the kid’s sake even though she treated him terribly (a story on its own), now the child has grown up and left home she has left him and is demanding his house and possesions, his pension and half his wages. He now lives day to day with their other teenage son, wondering when he is going to be made homeless.
    Us men, just brutes…

  • livilion

    The above sleen venting directed at Hugo. Buying a house doesn’t need to be a capitalistic exercise in financial speculation, some just want the security of owning their own home.

    I wonder how many men who have taken on a mortgage ever could have imagined they might one day lose their home, and still have to keep on paying for it, when that vision of love they married turned into an evil vindictive witch(more often prompted by the solicitor) determined to ruin the remainder of their lives?