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Repossessions could be avoided, says minister

Government schemes have helped 300,000 so far

Homeowners are still facing repossession, in spite of the creation of new schemes to stop them losing their home.

Housing Minister John Healey MP told delegates at a Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) conference that although government schemes have helped some 300,000 homeowners to date, some lenders are still repossessing homes without exploring alternative options. 

Mr Healey said specialist lenders accounted for two-thirds of repossessions in recent months, and all lenders should ask themselves whether borrowers in difficulty could be aided by one of the government schemes.

Name and shame

Which? policy adviser Dominic Lindley criticised the Financial Services Authority for its reluctance to penalise offending companies. 

‘It’s extraordinary that the FSA refuses to name the lenders that it says are treating customers unfairly; it’s effectively protecting the commercial interests of companies trying to evict people from their homes,’ he said. ‘How will lenders be persuaded to improve their practices unless the FSA names and shames them?’

Freedom of information

The FSA refused Which?’s Freedom of Information request to name the lenders it was investigating. Among other reasons, the FSA refused to disclose the information because it said that to do so would impact on the FSA’s ‘regulatory ability to effectively engage with the firms in the sector [and …] harm the firm’s brands and reputation, so harming the commercial interests and financial position of the particular regulated firm or group of firms and stakeholders in it.’ 

The City watchdog also justified it decision on the grounds that ‘it represented “confidential information” which the FSA had received in the course of carrying out its regulatory functions and was therefore prohibited from disclosing.’

For advice on what to do if you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, read our guide about repossession.

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