Rethink needed on state aid for banks, says CML

Michael Coogan is calling on the government to revisit its position on state aid for banks and address the lower levels of mortgage funding that have been the unintended result.

Last week Coogan, director-general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, told the CML annual conference that the unintended effect of the nationalisation of Northern Rock has been less funding available in the wider market.

He suggests that Bradford & Bingley’s nationalisation is likely to exacerbate the problem.

Coogan says: “Of course, mortgage funds available for home movers have been substantially affected by Northern Rock shrinking its business as it is required to do under the state aid plan agreed with the European Commission.

“This has had a systemic impact on the amount of money available to help activity in the wider housing market.”

He adds: “This problem is likely to be accentuated now that B&B is nationalised.”

Coogan says the government has to revisit the business plans for nationalised banks with the European Commission and take a more pragmatic stand on state aid.

He adds that it must take into account the fact that wider housing market activity is substantially dampened by lower levels of remortgaging.

Coogan also backed Mortgage Strategy in his speech when he reiterated the magazine’s call for banks to take equity shares in struggling borrowers’ property.

Coogan says lenders should institute a backstop scheme that would kick in after the arrears management process.

This would enable customers and lenders to agree to sell and lease back properties before court action takes place, substantially reducing repossessions and allowing clients to stay in their homes.