House repossessions for 2009 were 15% up on the figure for the previous year at 46,000; cold, hard fact. Put these facts into real terms and what we’re saying is 46,000 people went through the heartbreak of losing the roof over their head – the highest number for 14 years.
In light of what can only be thought of as a catastrophe, the words of the housing minister, John Healey, can at best be described as insensitive. Mr Healey is quoted as saying:
“In some cases it (repossession) is the best thing for people who are struggling with their mortgage. Sometimes it’s impossible for people to maintain the mortgage commitment they have. It may be the best thing in those circumstances.”
Insensitive yes, but in light of the fact that, during the expenses scandal, it came to light that Mr Healey made an £88,000 profit on a London flat; a flat that was subsidised by the taxpayer for at least five years, insensitive is perhaps not a strong enough word. Callous, hard-hearted, cruel, and inhuman seem more apt, don’t you think? Healey, let’s drop the Mister, claimed £1,317 to replace a door and overclaimed in excess of £2,000 in mortgage interest. Oh, that’s in addition to the 88 grand profit.
There is, surprisingly, some good news in the fact that the final repossession figure is down from the 75,000 forecast by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML); however, the hidden heartbreak is that 188,300 were behind with mortgage payments at the end of last year. And the CML is predicting an increase in repossessions and the number of people falling behind with their monthly mortgage payments this year, saying household finances will come under greater pressure amid economic uncertainty and possible interest rate rises.
The last word should, I suppose, go to Healey:
“If families are deep in debt and there is no way they can keep paying their mortgage, then repossession might be the only way they can get their finances and lives back on track. But my job as Housing Minister is to ensure this is always the last resort and that they have been able to explore all other options first.”
We have included a link to John Healey’s website above, just in case you wanted to let him know how you feel…