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Government must help to stop possessions, says BSA

The government needs to do more to keep people in their homes, says a report commissioned by the Building Societies Association.

The paper, Long Term Safety Nets to Protect Mortgage Borrowers, explores alternative solutions that could help keep people in their homes if they fall into mortgage difficulties.

It is authored by John Howard, chairman of the Financial Services Consumer Panel.

Speaking at a roundtable launching the paper Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the BSA, says: “We believe that now is the time to carry out a holistic review of the safety nets available to protect borrowers in difficulties, from both a public and private perspective.

“I hope that the challenges we have identified today and the possible solutions provided can be the subject of detailed discussions amongst all stakeholders and government departments.”

Possible solutions covered in the report, and debated at the launch, included forbearance, a more substantial mortgage rescue scheme, new forms of tenure and insurance compulsion,

Howard says: “There is no doubt that the costs of repossessions are very significant and that present arrangements are piecemeal and insufficient.  

“Any new arrangements are likely to require some form of subsidy from the state and the rules in the changes on benefits would be a good opportunity to consider a new scheme, at a time when we could be on the verge of repossession figures rising again to record highs.”

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Strong dollar can be a powerful driver of UK dividend growth in 2015

By Robin Geffen, fund manager and CEO 

This year threatens to be a challenging one for UK dividend hunters. Last year saw an all-time record amount paid out in UK dividends — some £97.4bn, according to research from Capita Dividend Monitor. Yet as Capita also pointed out, out the biggest single factor driving the growth in the fourth quarter of last year was easy to identify: the rising US dollar. 

In our view, this trend is much more than simply a one-quarter phenomenon. It is actually the most profound issue to get right as a UK equity income investor in 2015. We believe that the US dollar will continue to strengthen significantly from its current level. This is due more to the US economy’s demonstrable de-coupling from the rest of the world than to a view on the UK. The US has a strong chance of tightening monetary conditions this year without jeopardising growth or de-stabilising its housing market. The same can unfortunately not be said about the UK.

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