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Tough love on repossessions not the answer says Citizens Advice

28 June 2011

Responding to Richard Banks' comments today on rising interest rates, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy said:

“Across the Citizens Advice service, we helped people with over 100,000 mortgage and secured loan arrears last year*.  Encouraging forbearance is absolutely right and necessary, with the current levels of unemployment and other economic challenges people are facing. A policy of ‘tough love’ would be short-sighted and unhelpful.

“Of course there will be cases where homeownership is unsustainable, but in that situation it is vital that those affected are helped out of home ownership in an orderly way and that they can get into secure rented accommodation with the least disruption possible. This is the key challenge for lenders and government.

“When lenders were not treating people fairly and failing to show forbearance** repossession proceedings were started when people were only a couple of months in arrears.Since then lenders have done a good job with customers facing difficulties but we are now starting to see poor practice creep backin.

“Anyone struggling to meet their mortgage repayments, or worried that they might have difficulties in the future, should get free independent advice straight away from somewhere like their local CAB.You have a greater chance of staying in your home if you seek advice early.”

*Bureaux helped with 103,487 mortgage and secured loan arrears problems between April 2010 - March 2011

**See our 2007 report Set up to fail: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/set_up_to_fail

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.