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Abbey to include birthdays and Christmas in affordability checks

Abbey for Intermediaries will now require customers to account for one-off costs such as Christmas in their expenditure assessments.

The lender has changed its expenditure assessment to require all customers to fill out regular and non-regular monthly costs.

Examples given of regular expenditure include utilities, council tax and clothing, while non-regular expenditure covers religious festivals, birthdays, holidays and miscellaneous goods and services.

Abbey says that realistic information must be entered into these boxes and that entering zeros in these fields will lead to a decline decision.

Previously, Abbey would use Office for National Statistics data to obtain an average expenditure for a customer.

The new policy is also in place for Santander’s direct brand.

Abbey is also requiring brokers to submit more information up front, including details of private sales and deposits, which it says will allow it to process cases faster by reducing the number of cases it pends for outstanding information.


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  • Mary Lockyer 28th December 2012 at 1:23 pm

    This is rather too prescriptive and actually discriminatory, ie Jehovah’s Witnesses do not keep Birthdays nor Christmas or any other “religious ” festival, some may shop in the sales and make things, whilst others can be over the top in expenditure, my brother never buys Christmas presents for anyone !

  • Tom Cleary 29th February 2012 at 2:47 pm

    People “cut their cloth”, when someone takes out a mortgage, they change their spending habits. Not just on Christmas and Birthdays but also going out, holidays, etc etc. This policy takes no account of that. The real World is somewhere common sense is alive and well…

  • Grey Haired Underwriter 28th February 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I understand why it is being done as it’s the FSA MMR comments on the obtaining of
    an income and expenditure assessment. The trouble with these is that there is little point in obtaining such detail if it pertains to a totally different situation. Am I concerned at how much was spent last Xmas or should I be more interested in hiow much the new council tax will be, how much more expensive it will be to run the new household – water rates, heat and light and the general things that I need to do to get by in life. The fact is that a lender should only be interested in a cost that can’t be altered rather than one that definitely will.

    As an aside I saw loads of I&E forms back in the 90s crisis and the truth is that the vast majority were bunkum

  • Dermot Brannigan 28th February 2012 at 12:21 pm

    have none of you read the MMR? This came out over a year ago, and is something we’re supposed to be debating. There’s no point whingeing after the event, you need to make representations to the regulators.

    Could it be that lenders are just fed up with the regulators closing the stable door too late, and they have decided to bolt their own stable whilst the horse sleeps?

    Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get the public to learn to budget properly just by this measure.

  • Louise t 24th February 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Completely agree with this. Maybe people will realistically assess if they can pay that mortgage or not on their real disposable income. Good move

  • MortgageMary 24th February 2012 at 3:34 pm

    At the end of a very trying week, I have to say that I have been so entertained by all these posts and have laughed out loud at almost every one. What a brillant, clever, witty and full of common sense lot we all are.

    Long live the mortgage broker!!!!

  • Dicko 24th February 2012 at 3:17 pm

    How many Abbey BDMs are submitting comments as anonymous on here I wonder?

  • Kebster 24th February 2012 at 1:51 pm

    This sounds pretty sensible to me.

    I know when I was drawing up my own budget to determine the maximum amount I could afford to repay each month I took account of all these kinds of annual costs. If you over stretch yourself across the whole year, you’ll end up in debt, end of! I thought it was as a consequence of a culture of not declaring outgoings that meant people overstretched themselves leading to such a large number of reposessions in the last few years.

    Can’t have it both ways!

  • Daniel Baguley 24th February 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Wow, look at the shrieking from the hard done by brokers who might have to do a bit of extra work. The competent brokers, however, won’t have to do anything extra, beyond filling in a couple of boxes, because they will already have this information on their Fact Find.

  • Adam 24th February 2012 at 12:00 pm

    good bye AFI it was nice knowing you, becuase you have proper lost the plot !

  • Mr R Sole 24th February 2012 at 11:37 am

    Really??? How did many of the contributers to this thread actually pass CeMap??? Clearly this is the first bite of tighter regulation and whining about it won’t change a thing. Could it be that Abbey are trying to demonstrate to the regulator how inane and unworkable their recommendations are? If Abbey shuts it’s doors to business, how long until the smaller lenders fall over under a mountain of applications? Thinking is a highly over rated pastime, but some of you really should try it!!!!

  • Big Dog 24th February 2012 at 11:18 am

    Of all the reason to never use Abbey this is one of the more minor ones. As long as their definition of realistic is… realistic then it makes sense that people who spend less “non regularly” should be allowed to borrow more than those who don’t.

    The fact that MS have sensationalised the change will, of course, go straight over the heads most of the commentators on this website.

  • antony clegg 24th February 2012 at 11:04 am

    this is absolutely crazy. is this lip service to the regulator or do Abbey actually think this will reduce mortgage arrears. as for the sole trader / self employed broker this just adds even more work to the already big workload of submitting an application

  • Grey Haired Underwriter 24th February 2012 at 9:18 am

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum

  • Shock horror..... 24th February 2012 at 6:23 am

    … lender assess customers own affordability and makes the system easier to use!! WOW! HOW DARE THEY!

    it’s clear this site hates Abbey and drip feeds sensational “non-stories” like this to its foot soldiers of Abbey haters.

    the fact this is a great move, reduces furtger and repeat requests for information (NOT MENTIONED), the fact this story contains various mis-leading statements and the fact this will lead to quicker processing (ALSO NOT MENTIONED) is completely diluted with a spin of unbelievable magnitude.

    it appears even if Abbey published this weekends winning lottery numbers on their website brokers would find an angle to be unhappy (it’s in the wrong font etc etc)

    Well done Abbey!

    More positive reporting please and less DOOM AND GLOOM

  • Sandra Mcwhirter 23rd February 2012 at 9:42 pm

    To anon at 12.54
    Yes actually most of the arrears happen in July and August and then again in December and January! Every lender I have worked for can provide very clear stats to back this up. Had you ever had collections experience for any financial product then you would know this!

  • Jack c 23rd February 2012 at 9:39 pm

    This latest announcement is for me totally irrelevant – placing business with the shower that is Abbey leads to lost business !

  • Sandra mcwhirter 23rd February 2012 at 8:09 pm

    This is all part of the intrusive review from fsa so expect all lenders to do something similiar! If we all do fact finds then we should have the information available so where is the hassle?
    The other boxes are a long time coming and will stop cases having to be pended for further info.

  • Dicko 23rd February 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I agree this makes total sense as long as I can offset it with the £100 my mum still gives me for my birthday. Should I include this £100 as Primary or Seconday. I will have to run it past my BDM in the morning to be safe………….

  • Anon 23rd February 2012 at 7:02 pm

    As a broker this may seem ludicrous but assomeone who manages 1000’s of litigation and repossessions accounts when the mortgage isn’t paid an arrears start accruing these are some of the main reasons that crop up, I’ve worked as a broker and I know how difficult it is but the reality is these things need to be taken into account and very eventuality covered

  • Tom Cleary 23rd February 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I am no theologian but I am pretty sure that Easter would be considered a religious festival!?

  • Jose María Nus 23rd February 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Stuff the lot of you, we don’t want your business anyway!!

  • We're all doomed!! 23rd February 2012 at 4:54 pm

    And Valentine’s Day!!

    I have so many romantic liaisons, this time of the year costs me a fortune!!!!!

  • Mark Stroud 23rd February 2012 at 4:39 pm

    What’s the fuss about? With their rates and criteria can anyone see themselves doing business with Abbey for the forseeable future?

  • Bobby 23rd February 2012 at 4:08 pm

    So all Muslims applications are declined then Abbey ? Interesting ! I expect to see this splashed all over the tabloids tomorrow. Utter madness. Why don’t Abbey just come out and say we are no longer open for business ?

  • S Walton 23rd February 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Shhhhh – they forgot Easter!

  • Paul Hanlon 23rd February 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I certainly won’t be doing any more business with Santander following their changes to their interest only criteria and now this. They also seem to now have a habit of declining a case at the last minute even post offer. Wonder how many other brokers have been affected this way. Rates are poor so very littile reason to use them and I won’t be falling over myself to give them any business when they do eventually wise up and realise they need to increase their lending targets again.

  • colin 23rd February 2012 at 3:39 pm

    LOL…….oh well I guess not many Jehovoa’s Witness will pass
    Abbey says that realistic information must be entered into these boxes and that entering zeros in these fields will lead to a decline decision.

  • Steve Dransfield 23rd February 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Oh. My. God.

    I’ve had a real fall out with Shabby over case already – I may work from a panel of lenders, but as of now my panel is 1 lender smaller.


  • Paul McMath 23rd February 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I would like to say it is mad, but there is good news on the back of this!

    Abbey have to do a return to the city twice a year, next one due in June. There business has fallen off a cliff, but to keep there share price at a reasonable level they will have to offer great deals by April or they will be slautered. I reckon 0.99 trackers or 125% lending will have to come back to try and cover all the business they should of had……LOL>>>>

  • Kevin Vella 23rd February 2012 at 3:22 pm

    It is beyond belief how criteria like this comes into being for many of the logical points raised by many here.

  • Shaks 23rd February 2012 at 3:19 pm

    What about aetheists who don’t celebrate religious festivals or those who don’t recognise birthdays, will there be a selection for this category?

    What about those people who sell their personal belongings and goods at car boot sales? They are recovering some of their previous expenditures without actually making a declararble profit as such,(as they will be typically selling their kids toys and clothes at a loss.) Will they take this recovered expenditure in to account???The Abbey have spent too many hours in the offices of the FSA and Consumers Association.

  • Dumb Struck! 23rd February 2012 at 3:15 pm

    How long before Richard Littlejohn @ The Daily Mail has to report in his column that Cherie Blair’s Chambers have taken on a legal action against Santander for asking questions which breach people’s
    ‘Yuman Rites’???!!!

    Will Santander allow one-off nice wins at the bookies to be included in your income?

    What next, Tesco Mortgages using data from your Club Card to assess your ability to pay? “Sorry Sir, you bought Tesco ‘Finest’ lasagne instead of Tesco ‘Value’ lasagne last month and so the computer says No”?

    Utterly Ridiculous!!!

  • joanna more 23rd February 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I don t understand what all the fuss is about, as part of my network i have to do a expenditure figure for all my clients. The email I have recieved states they have added 2 boxes called regular expenditure and non regular, does not take a scientist to work out what goes in what box, most lender s do this now anyway. Easy enough.

  • joanna more 23rd February 2012 at 3:09 pm

    This is nothing more than we already do, as part of my network I have to fill out a expenditure form for all my clients, they are adding two boxes it seems from my email which are regular expenditure and non regular, it does not take a scientist to work out what should go in what box, just don t leave it blank. Easy enough

  • Jools 23rd February 2012 at 3:01 pm

    … join us here at Santander HQ, we’re in the affordability checking dept, and yes, yes, all I can see is monkeys with guns. Things are going bang but nobody knows why!
    Wait, there in the distance I can see the leader of the department, he’s got his underpants on his head, a pencil up each nostril and is chanting ber-wibble repeatedly”

    Hang on, they’ve forgotton to ask how much clients bet on the Grand National annually.

    #looking for a job, cos this is getting silly now.

  • Ricardo 23rd February 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Some of my friends in the city have come to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong with Santander. Some of their recent behaviour has seriously raised eyebrows. Looks like they are now trying to choke off lending. Hmmmm, watch this space.

  • Jon Hoar 23rd February 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Happy Christmas to you Santander. And If I dont celebrate Birthdays, Christmas, or take a holiday- then Im tarred with the same brush.

  • John Savage 23rd February 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Does this mean that my brother who is a Jahovahs Witness would fail the credit score by putting in nil on xmas and birthdays expences as he does not celebrate either

  • Tom Cleary 23rd February 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This feels like death by a thousand cuts. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum…

  • Bob Riach Riach Independent Financial Advisers 23rd February 2012 at 2:11 pm

    About 20 years ago if the client was borrowing more than 90% the abbey used to ask how much was spent on Dog Food and whether the client had a large or small Dog. I thought this was RUFF treatment at the time

  • paul mcgonigle 23rd February 2012 at 2:11 pm

    do Non domestics have to put in for thanksgiving? Also if you fast as you are muslim can we reduce food bills for 4 weeks as a one off? and dont forget even though you can get 3 easter eggs for £5 santander this should be accounted for!!!! what a joke..

  • seagull 23rd February 2012 at 2:04 pm

    “Abbey says that realistic information must be entered into these boxes and that entering zeros in these fields will lead to a decline decision.”
    I would be very interested to know how much I should spend at Christmas, I always felt I was too generous so, if I could get something in writing from Abbey to back it up, I might be able to reduce the number of presents bought.
    Regarding birthdays, will Abbey allow me to provide gifts to friends as well as relations? Do I have to include those that I only buy a card for? Also, I have a couple of Great Aunts that give me a tenner each year on my birthday, I assume this can now be including in my income along with the nectar points which I save up and use towards Christmas costs.
    Is there anybody out there in Regulator/Lender land thats not either cowering under the desk frightened to come out until this nasty recession’s over or runing around in mad circles screaming “the end of the world is coming!”
    Here’s a radical thought, when times are good don’t lend money to anybody that can just about prove they have a pulse and when times are bad don’t force everybody to have proof that they can pay back the mortgage at moents notice should the FSA be having a bad hair day! What about some long term considered plans for lending people money to buy their home and stop screwing up peoples lives.

  • Shaun Davis 23rd February 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Not suprised in the slightest.The service that I have received from Abbey as of late has been nothing short of dreadful and embarrassing for me as I am the one facing the clients.

    This isnt practical either considering your own birthday doesnt typically cost the applicant anything. So what we really need to be asking is who do you buy gifts for, are there any special birthdays this year like your grandads 80th where you might spend a little more, what do you spend at Christmas and if you have no family and you arent religious then you cant have a mortgage!


    Sorry Sir but you cannot buy your dream home because you spend to much at Christmas and I cannot ask you to declare less than you spend because that would be mortgage fraud.

    If this is TCF then I give up..


  • Luke Atkinson 23rd February 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Controversial I know and I await the onslaught of disagreement but….

    Surely as ”Advisers” you collate this information anyway as part of the factfinding and recommendation process? Abbey may be adding another level to this but any good adviser will ensure unexpected expenses would be added to the affordability cheecks, would they not?

    This will of course affect those companies that only offer information and wouldn’t know a factfind if it jumped up and bit them on the behind.

  • We're All Doomed!! 23rd February 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Further to my earlier comment – I now take it back.

    It would appear that Santander has had Xmas and Birthdays in their affordability calculator for some time. However, I’m not quite sure how, as they do not seem to ask how many friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, work colleagues and so forth that the applicant might buy presents for and invite round to dinner!!

    That said, it is better that they ask the applicant to detail this expenditure, rather than make a wild guess, which is what they appear to have done up to now.

  • Bob Riach Riach Independent Financial Advisers 23rd February 2012 at 1:07 pm

    happy Birthday

  • John Davidson 23rd February 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I think it is a good idea asking for information like private sales and deposits on the application, as it saves time for them asking for it once it has been received then awaiting our response, and then receiving our response. The affordability checks can be seen in positive light, as it seems Abbey are letting us have a say on what the monthly expenditure should be, instead of them telling us what it should be.

  • Dazed & Confused 23rd February 2012 at 1:05 pm

    “Abbey is also requiring brokers to submit more information up front, including details of private sales and deposits, which it says will allow it to process cases faster by reducing the number of cases it pends for outstanding information.”

    Well…I certainly think that it will speed processing times. Cut the number of cases submitted by half due to being outside affordability and it is bound to reduce processing time. Methinks the Ministry for Stating the Bleeding Obvious are at work again!

  • Robert Seymour 23rd February 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Shoe size and inside leg next on the forms? or do they want to know when you plan to die as well?

  • Father Chistmas 23rd February 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Humbug! Will they be asking if you give your grandchild a fiver when they visit or if you contribute a quid to the Big Issue occasionally??

  • Jon 23rd February 2012 at 12:57 pm

    what if i’m planning on taking my wife on a surprise birthday meal. do i have to let the Abbey know? will they want to see the menu? can we have desert?

  • Ricardo 23rd February 2012 at 12:55 pm

    They’ve finally lost it and gone totally tonto. Next they’ll have underwriters in disguise following you around to see where you do your shopping.

  • samcox 23rd February 2012 at 12:54 pm

    well i’ve seen it all now! perhaps Santander would like to move a representative into our homes for 3 months prior to any mortgage application so they can carefully monitor all expenditure? I’m not quite sure why Santander have decided they don;t want any business this year, so far dreadful rates, changes to interest only policy and now this, should, firmly ensure that brokers and clients take any mortgage business elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong many calculators have been seriously lacking in years gone by, but are we really suggesting that our clients are not intelligent enough to budget themselves for such occasions, are there many reported instances where people ring the lender and advise they cannot make the mortgage payment that month as they have booked an ‘all inclusive to tenerife!’ ??????

  • David Sutherland 23rd February 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Should I also include what colour of Pyjamas they wear?

  • Matt Mustoe 23rd February 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I trust they will be paying increased proc fees to cover the extra front end work!

  • Andy Davies 23rd February 2012 at 12:50 pm

    One Word only….Unbelieveable, had to check the calender to make sure it wasn’t April 1st!!!

  • We're all doomed!! 23rd February 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Is it April 1st?