Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mortgage Help for Struggling Homeowners; GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES SCHEME

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mortgage Help for Struggling Homeowners; GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES SCHEME

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

TENS of thousands of recession-hit North East families are being offered help with their mortgages by the Government

Homeowners struggling to make ends meet will be allowed to reduce their monthly home loan payments for two years under plans announced today by housing minister Margaret Beckett.

The scheme is designed to help families who have seen main breadwinners laid-off or forced to cut their hours due to the effects of the credit crunch.

To qualify, owners must live in their property, have bought it before last December, owe less than pounds 400,000 on the mortgage and have savings of less than pounds 16,000.

They must also have a regular household income, have not missed any payments for five months and be able to pay at least 30% of the total interest payment due every month.

The plans, called the Homeowners Mortgage Support (HMS) scheme, were today hailed by politicians and families eligible for the short-term cuts in the region.

But others said it should be extended to help people who rent their properties and would face being evicted if they missed monthly payments.

North East Minister Nick Brown MP said: "This is welcome news. It starts from today.

"It's real help for local people who are trying to hold down a job and mortgage payments through difficult times." More than 80% of the mortgage market will be involved in HMS, with lenders given a financial guarantee by Downing Street that will protect the deferred payments.

Those taking part include Gosforth-based Northern Rock, along with several others such as Lloyds Bank Group, which includes Halifax Bank of Scotland, Bradford and Bingley and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank.

A number of other major banks, building societies and specialist lenders have also confirmed today that they will offer their customers HMS as soon as possible. …

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