CML bemoans slow progress on arrears protocol

The Council of Mortgage Lenders has lashed out at the Civil Justice Council for its inability to finalise an arrears protocol for lenders.

In a letter to chancellor Alistair Darling, the CML outlines what it is doing to help home owners facing arrears and repossession and calls on the CJC to redraft its mortgage arrears protocol, which is due to come into force next spring.

The recommendations will act as legal guidelines for lenders whose borrowers face repossession.

The CML is concerned the protocol could lead to double regulation and restrict lenders’ ability to repossess properties.

In the letter, Michael Coogan, director-general of the CML, says: “We are concerned we have not made as much progress in recent weeks in finalising this protocol with the CJC as we had anticipated.”

But Bob Musgrave, chief executive of the CJC, says: “We have tried to accommodate the CML’s requests and are working with the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury to push the protocol along.”

Meanwhile, the CML has welcomed the changes to Income Support for Mortgage Interest unveiled last Tuesday.

From April 2009 the government will slash waiting times for the recently unemployed to qualify for ISMI from 39 weeks to 13. It will also increase the benefits available to cover interest on the first £175,000 of clients’ mortgages – up from £100,000.

But Iain MacQueen-Sims, director of OmniCheK, says the barriers to qualifying for ISMI remain high.

He says: “This seems to be more about spin than substance. It will help some but I’d like to see how many.”