Braintree, United Kingdom (PressExposure) September 30, 2008 -- News of Lloyds TSB's takeover of HBOS will do little to help the thousands of people falling into mortgage arrears says Payment Protection Insurance lobbyist Sara-Ann Burgess from Burgesses.
She comments: "Whilst this Â£12.2bn takeover might relieve the pressure on HBOS, it will not ease the financial burden felt by hundreds of thousands of people faced with crippling debts and little support from their lender. More and more people are losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, but this is of little concern to these two organizations that collectively will become a 'super bank'."
According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, at the end of the first half of this year, 155,600 households had arrears of three months or more. Many have contacted the National Debtline - the debt advice charity reports that 4,154 calls, in connection with first and second charge mortgages, were made during June, July and August this year, up from 2865 the previous year.
Sara-Ann asks: "Where are the lenders when their customers need them most? If they're calling Debtline it must be because they're getting little support from their mortgage company. The Charity has been recruiting to try and keep pace with the demand for its services - there are now 100 staff on hand to give advice, but I suspect this is the tip of the iceberg. The numbers of callers would double again if the capacity to help them increased."
There are also worries that LTSB and HBOS will hold a collective customer base of nearly one third of the UK's savings and mortgage market, creating a larger captive audience, for the marketing of its own-brand PPI.
Sara-Ann continues: "There's a general nervousness about the stability of jobs which means more people may consider purchasing PPI as a financial safety net. This is great news, but consumers should not buy cover that's offered by their lender - shop around, as much cheaper and more comprehensive policies can be sourced via independent providers."
She concludes: "I hope more support will be given to those struggling to make their mortgage repayments and customers will not be taken advantage of. I also urge people to purchase PPI - it provides some financial breathing space for those made redundant - something I hope the 40,000 or so employees, plus staff working in businesses that support LTSB and HBOS will get. "There is robust, low cost protection insurance available in the market despite some of the bad press the protection industry has received. Those who would be unable to pay their mortgage if they were made redundant should investigate their options. This economic storm is going to get worse before it gets better and consumers must protect themselves."