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Jackie Uhi: Let’s work together to defeat gender discrimination

Uhi_Jackie_Barclays_2015

Within any lending community there are always issues to overcome. In the mortgage, world a proportion of the younger generation are struggling to get their feet onto the property ladder due to rising house prices and the knock-on effect of having to raise substantial deposits. Some second steppers face lingering affordability or negative equity issues and the self-employed/contractor community continue to battle certain lending restrictions.

Another much-debated area in recent times is the issue of lending into retirement, a debate which currently appears to be raising more questions than answers. And now we also have some statistical data which suggests some gender imbalance.

According to a survey compiled by uSwitch.com, nearly one in 10 young women (9 per cent) who have applied for a mortgage in the last ten years say they were discriminated against by lenders on the basis that they were pregnant or intending to start a family.

The research also revealed that a quarter of female home buyers (25 per cent) say they have intentionally hidden their family plans from lenders, fearing they will miss out on the best mortgage rate or even be rejected.

Overall, over one in four (27 per cent) women think the current affordability criteria is out of step with modern family finances – but, in the meantime, over one in ten (11 per cent) would put their family plans on hold to secure a mortgage on their dream home.

As a staunch advocate of equality, this makes for some worrying reading but it also underlines the tough balancing act that all lenders have had, and continue to face, amidst economic, housing supply and regulatory restrictions. Of course lenders are not always perfect but let’s not be too downcast, lending conditions are certainly improving.

As such volumes and activity levels continue to rise and these aforementioned issues are certainly not being ignored. And to maintain this positive momentum it is clear that all links in the housing and mortgage chain – from lenders though to the Government and from builders through to the regulator – must work collectively to help break down these lending barriers for all ages, gender and employment status.

Jackie Uhi is managing director of mortgage distribution at Barclays

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