I’m not officially working today (am at home, in recovery from gastric flu). But I’ve just been passed something so fascinating I couldn’t help passing it on.
You may not remember but something called the “Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme” was one of the flagship ideas in Gordon Brown’s Queen’s Speech in 2008. (Even Alex and I were quite excited at the time.) The idea was to help people defer mortgage interest for up to two years if they were struggling with payments. The scheme took ages to set up and – even when it was finally announced this spring – only half of lenders fully signed up to it. Even so, the government presented it as a major victory against repossession.
The fact that just 15 people have been helped by the HMSS seems almostly awesomely poor, compared to the fanfare that surrounded the original idea. Why did the DCLG stick out the announcement today that so few people had been helped? (I tried to get the information six weeks ago as part of a wider piece about government rescue schemes and DCLG said the data wasn’t available).
Could today by any chance be a good day to bury bad news, given that everyone is following the PBR? The frustrating thing is that the scheme’s failure will hardly get a mention in the media, whereas its launch was covered almost everywhere in reams of detail. Newspaper headlines, television broadcasts, radio news, etc. That discrepancy, unfortunately, applies to many government announcements.
(Ministers have claimed that thousands of people have been shown unusual forebearance from lenders thanks to pressure from Westminster. The lenders would claim that they would always consider such steps.)
Just to avoid any confusion: This scheme is different to another one called “Homeowner Mortgage Support”. That was supposed to cost £300m over two years to help 6,000 families. It has so far helped….drum roll….92 households. Although 420 have been “processed”.