Government announces mortgage support for homeowners

Posted on: 22 April 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Homeowners who fall on hard times will have help to stay in their own homes the government announced.

Launched by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Housing Minister Margaret Beckett the Homeowners Mortgage Support (HMS) scheme will enable eligible borrowers who suffer a temporary loss of income to cut their mortgage interest payments for up to two years to help them get back on track with their finances.

This new support will be available throughout the UK and builds on a range of measures the Government has already put in place to ensure that repossession is always a last resort.
From today, the following major high street lenders will offer their customers HMS: Lloyds Bank Group (which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland), Bradford and Bingley, Northern Rock, the Royal Bank of Scotland (which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank), Cumberland Building and the National Australia Bank Group (which includes Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank).

A number of other banks, building societies and specialist lenders have also confirmed today that they will offer their customers HMS as soon as possible. These are Bank of Ireland (which includes Bristol and West), GMAC, GE Money, Kensington Mortgages, the Post Office and Standard Life Bank.

Lenders offering HMS will have the security of a Government guarantee if the borrower defaults.

At the same time, four other high street lenders, Barclays (including First Plus), HSBC, Nationwide and Santander (including Abbey and Alliance and Leicester) have all confirmed today they will offer comparable arrangements to HMS to their customers, while opting not to take up the Government guarantee.

Customers of these institutions experiencing a reduction in income and willing to make regular monthly payments will receive a similar level of support and be encouraged to seek independent money advice.

As a result of this week's announcement, lenders covering more than 80% of the mortgage market will now be providing enhanced support to their customers. Borrowers will receive independent money advice as part of these changes to ensure they are making the right decisions for their circumstances.

Since the autumn, the Government has put in place a range of measures to give more protection to households at risk of repossession. This includes a new pre-court action protocol for all the main high street lenders, quicker and more extensive support to home owners who have lost their job, a scheme to enable the most vulnerable home owners to stay in their homes, and a major extension of free debt and legal advice. 

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For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk/HMS.

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