Headlines: June 23rd, 2009

More than 200,000 families a month are getting help with mortgage interest or free Government funded advice from their local council, according to the Housing Minister John Healey. He revealed the figures as he announced a doubling of funding for free, legal advice in courts.

Mr.Healey’s announcement came as the Council of Mortgage Lenders revised its forecast for repossessions from 75,000 to 65,000 this year. It said Government and industry initiatives meant more people were contacting their lenders and getting help. In the last year 76 Government-funded court desks have provided on-the-day legal advice and representation for people facing repossession or eviction.

Mr. Healey said: “It is real backstop help for those closest to the point of losing their home. All’s not lost, even in court. In four out of five cases, the court desk advisers stop immediate repossession or eviction. Over the last year we’ve seen this work to help people keep their homes, so I’m doubling the extra money to support this service to 1.5million pounds.”

The court desks were only one element of the help available with other people being supported by their local authorities. “Court is close to, but not the end of the line and the Government has put in place help at each step before that to help prevent repossession,” Mr. Healey said.

Figures from the Department of Justice show that in the first three months of this year there was a forty per cent drop in lenders bringing repossession claims to court.