The beginning of October saw UK Mortgage Prisoners step up their campaign – lobbying Government to change rules affordability tests and to stop the sale of mortgages to vulture finds. This has emerged within the context of growing impatience amongst members given the lack of progress being made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA’s consultation on proposed changes to help mortgage prisoners closed in June 2016. John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, claims that helping mortgage prisoners is a priority. However, four months on from the consultation, little has changed whilst more and more stories of family breakdown, mental health issues and hopelessness caused by financial stress due to extortionate interest rates continue to flood in.
Campaigners attended a protest outside John Glen’s Salisbury office on October 4th calling for ‘justice’ for mortgage prisoners. The story was covered by the Salisbury Journal. Glen was not available to speak to protesters but later provided comment to the local newspaper:
“I fully understand that being unable to change your mortgage can be a difficult and stressful situation.That’s why I have been working hard to make it easier for people to switch to a new deal. I have been working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority for many months to change the rules on how customers are assessed for a new mortgage”.
Mortgage prisoners are not convinced that there is veracity to Glen’s claims of urgency on the matter and are calling upon him to act now to prohibit the sale of mortgages to vulture funds and provide redress and compensation to all mortgage prisoners. Campaigners do not believe that the FCA’s proposals for a ‘relative test’ go far enough as lenders will not be compelled to apply this when considering mortgage applications and resembles a rehash of the transitional arrangements within the Mortgage Conduct of Business (MCOB) rules that were similarly voluntary but not applied.
The lack of urgency has been described by lead Campaigner, Rachel Neale, as ‘graveyard justice’, comment provided to Mortgage Solutions in an interview earlier this week. Rachel further said:
“It’s a huge mess and people’s problems are getting worse. Every week I get six or seven emails from people in arrears or about family breakdown. A year on from Panorama, we’ve had the inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary group, the debate in parliament and the FCA consultation. Now we want the government to act.”
UK Mortgage Prisoners will continue their efforts next week with their ‘One Year On’ campaign which will mark the airing of the Panorama programme ‘Trapped by my mortgage’ in which journalist Cat McShane exposed the ‘home grown scandal‘ in which those at the highest level of government are implicated. Mortgage prisoners are indebted to Cat for her brave investigative journalism that most would shy away from. Next week, Cat will be providing a guest blog commenting on what she thinks of the campaign ‘One Year On’ from the programme.
Check back next week for more.