Rescue scheme cuts are a false economy

Michael Coogan
MICHAEL COOGAN, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, COUNCIL OF MORTGAGE LENDERS

There has been a lot of talk about the Mortgage Rescue scheme following the critical National Audit Office report. The scheme was expected to assist 6,000 families but the NAO says it helped less than half that number and at three times the anticipated cost per household.

So it is easy to see why the housing minister would be critical, with the political imperative for the government to distance itself from spending decisions of the Labour administration.

But if you look closely at the figures, you see nearly 39,000 people approached their local authority as a response to the scheme.

Of those, just over 14,000 were referred to their lender or for specialist advice, 10,000 got an information pack or advice from their local authority and 9,000 were offered other local authority housing options. Some 15,600 households were eligible and all received specialist money advice.

The rescue element was the last part of a process that arguably helped large numbers of borrowers keep their home.

We do not know how many have accessed information or advice they would not otherwise have got, or received it earlier and addressed their problems sooner. What we do know is that the scheme should be a valuable backstop to the safety net for borrowers in difficulties.

This would help the government keep families in their homes and support local communities. It is a shame it is reducing the scheme’s funding, leaving more borrowers exposed. It will be a false economy.