Housing scheme failing to help enough families

8 Jun 09
Just two families have been helped by the government’s £285m mortgage rescue scheme since it was launched in January

By Neil Merrick

05 June 2009

Just two families have been helped by the government’s £285m mortgage rescue scheme since it was launched in January.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that one household, in the east of England, received support in April, in addition to a family that was given assistance earlier in the year.

The scheme, offered by councils throughout England, allows families struggling with mortgage payments to sell their home to a registered social landlord and become rent-paying tenants. Alternatively, they can reduce their mortgage costs by sharing the equity on the home with an RSL.

Challenged over the figures at Prime Minister’s Questions on June 3, Gordon Brown said government policy was helping to cut the number of home repossessions.

The DCLG figures, published on May 29, showed 1,084 families approached councils with mortgage difficulties during April, of which 139 applied for support. The total number of families waiting for assistance was 376.

By the end of the month, offers had been made to a total of ten households, while a further 77 cases had been referred to a designated housing association.

Housing minister Margaret Beckett said the process was always expected to take three to five months after applications for support to be received. Some lenders had frozen repossession action against vulnerable households while applications were being considered.

‘We expect many more households to be helped in the coming months,’ she added.

Lucy Thornycroft, policy officer at the National Housing Federation, said: ‘There are inevitably going to be teething problems with this type of scheme. It’s still a great outcome even if it helps only a few hundred families.’

 

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