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Mortgage "help" is no help

September 3, 2008 11:52 PM

Local Liberal Democrats are angry that the support that the Government is supposedly going to give to those facing repossession are far too restrictive and will not help most people desperately in need of support.

Although the Government is going to reduce the time that someone will have to wait before they can claim for help with mortgage interest payments from 39 to 13 weeks if eligible for Income Support (IS) or income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), many thousands of people will slip through the net.

The "help" on offer will not cover, for instance, those in danger of being repossessed that :

1. Have not actually lost their job, but are on shorter hours, or losing pay because of sickness.

2. Are now in fluctuating employment (common in a recession) where they have a job some weeks but not others;

3. Are not eligible for income based benefits such as IS or JSA as they have a partner who is earning something (not necessarily much), and adult non-dependent in the house who may not be contributing much,

4. Are in receipt of incapacity benefit, which is a low income just above IS level.

5. Have been paying their mortgage for many years and so are paying very little interest and now paying mainly capital repayments;

6. Have a second mortgage.

7. Have split up with their partner for whatever reason, including domestic violence, and so cannot afford mortgage repayments now.

Councillor Suzanne Fletcher, long time campaigner on issues around homelessness spoke at tonight's Stockton Council meeting

" It is cruel to hint that help is on its way, when for most people facing repossession there is no such help. Most of those forced into working shorter hours or who are losing income because of illness, for instance will get no help under this scheme when it is brought in next year. People will continue to lose their homes causing hardship and heartache, as well as disrupting children's education and having to move away from family support. More Social Housing will be needed just to house those who have had their homes repossessed."

Cllr Fletcher is advocating a much stronger support process including taking models used by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust which enables people to remain in their homes whilst the Trust buys back part of it and the occupiers pay rent.