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Grant Shapps MP: Labour's Mortgage Rescue Scheme has hardly rescued anyone

SHAPPS GRANT Grant Shapps MP is Shadow Housing Minister.

The Prime Minister, in his attempt to grab a quick headline, should be ashamed of the way he has offered false hope to thousands who face the heartbreak of repossession.

Anyone who has ever owned a home will understand just how much the thought of being repossessed can lead to fear, anxiety and sleepless nights.

Right now in Britain there are tens of thousands of homeowners worried that they might not be able to meet the mortgage repayments this month and facing up to the grim possibility of having to tell their children that they are leaving their homes.

It was for those families that the Government’s £285 million Mortgage Rescue Scheme offered so much hope when it was announced last September.

The scheme, which formed the centre-piece of Gordon Brown’s Autumn 2008 re-launch, helps Housing Associations to purchase equity in the homes of vulnerable families at risk of repossession.

We were told by Ministers that the elderly, families with young children, the disabled and pregnant women would be helped and that 6,000 homeowners would be able to stay in their homes as a direct result of this policy.

With the number of repossessions rising and predicted to rise even further to 75,000 in 2009, everyone agreed that action was required and the Mortgage Rescue Scheme was widely welcomed.

It finally launched in January but since then just six families have avoided repossession because of this scheme. At this rate, less than 30 mortgages will be rescued during the two year duration of the initiative. In short, the Mortgage Rescue Scheme is failing.

Ten months on from the last re-launch and the Government has obviously been working hard at coming up with a new slogan. Back then Ministers were offering ‘real help now’, last week the Prime Minister was supposedly ‘Building Britain’s Future’. But what hasn’t changed is the emphasis on headlines over action.

This Government have often been criticised in the past for attempting to grab a quick headline by over-promising and under-delivering on policy, but this latest failure to deliver is the cruelest of all.

That’s because, as might be expected against the current economic landscape, the scheme’s failure certainly cannot be attributed to a lack of demand.

Since January, 5,342 homeowners have contacted their local authority about difficulties paying their mortgages including nearly 1,500 in the priority categories the Mortgage Rescue Scheme was specifically introduced to help.

The Prime Minister has yet again put his own poll ratings above the needs of British families. His announcement last September was timed with political point-scoring in mind and with hard-pressed families struggling to pay each month’s mortgage bill, he should have known better than to toy with the emotions of so many vulnerable families.

Rather than attempting to grab short-term headlines, one of the distinguishing hallmarks of a future Conservative government will be an emphasis on delivering real long-term change.


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