At last, an effort to resolve the crisis

Although the weather has been topsy-turvy for the past six months, a permanent storm cloud has been hanging over the mortgage market.

But after rain comes sunshine and last week, the pasty faces of workers in the industry finally caught some rays.

There’s still no cause to break out the factor 60 but the fact that the government is finally considering taking steps to tackle illiquidity in the marketplace is undoubtedly good news.

The Mortgage Finance Working Group, which is to be chaired by industry legend and former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby, is charged with restoring the securitisation market, helping to improve the availability of funding and sustaining confidence in the mortgage and housing markets.

It’s a fair old mountain to climb, made steeper by the fact that the government is only now starting to react to a disaster that struck eight months ago.

But no working group, even one with a chairman as influential as Crosby, can effect change without a willingness within the industry, the government, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority to act on its recommendations.

As chancellor Alistair Darling said in his rallying call to central banks last week, this crisis is the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression.

And while it’s easy to criticise lenders for making daily changes to rates and criteria, with the securitisation markets closed and LIBOR still high many are withering on the vine.

It’s not necessarily lack of trust that’s stopping banks lending to each other – they are simply crippled with fear that they won’t be able to access future funding and are desperately trying to manage their pipelines so they can continue lending for as long as possible.

Until a solution is found, lenders will be cast as the villains so it’s good to see the first sign of a practical plan – a ray of sunshine after months of gloom.