The UK Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has announced there will be a new £20 million Preventing Repossessions fund to help homeowners in danger of being repossessed, something which will enable local councils to offer interest-free loans to homeowners.
Anyone whose home is at risk is being urged to make full use of all the free advice already available, and £1 million of the fund is being put aside to offer more free legal advice to those at threat of losing their homes. This new service will be available at all County Courts and is there to aid the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme, ensuring everyone facing repossession will have access to free legal advice on the day. Apparently people who have access to such advice on the day often see applications for possession orders being rejected or suspended, and in 2011 30,000 homeowners benefited from such advice.
The Preventing Repossessions Fund is being allocated to every local housing authority and should enable them to offer homeowners struggling to stay afloat, interest-free loans of up to £5,000, giving them extra time to get back on their feet. Shapps has pointed out that repossessions should be the last resort and this new fund should ensure everyone has access to free advice and will be more likely to be able to get financial support. Although it is always best to get advice early on, it is possible to avert repossessions even on the day of the court hearing, and this extension of the Court Desk scheme should allow many more to get valuable legal advice on the day.
Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show the number of repossessions last year was lower than expected at just 36,000. This is the lowest level since 2007. The UK government is also committed to ensuring homeowners don’t see interest rates rapidly increase, and is investing more than £200 million into the Mortgage Rescue Scheme which will be available through local authorities. Anyone facing difficulties is advised to seek advice from the government website, or they can visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau or ring the National Debtline.