Despite schemes introduced to help people who are faced with eviction there were a total of 46,000 repossessions last year, a 14 year high and 15% up on 2008.
However, the help that is offered by government, low interest rates and lenders being urged to be more sympathetic may go some way to explain that repossessions in the fourth quarter of 2009 were 13% lower than in the third quarter. Although it would appear that only 92 people have actually benefited from the Mortgage Rescue Scheme, which may indicate the environment of lower interest rates is actually providing more practical assistance.
In addition to the repossessions figures it was reported that 188,300 mortgages were in arrears in 2009
Both the arrears and repossession figures are below initial estimates made by the influential Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) who predicted repossessions would be 75,000 in 2008 and those in arrears 195,000.
The picture for 2010 in uncertain with the economic recovery still fragile, inflation rising in the short term and the number of unemployed still relatively high.
The news was given an unexpected twist by James Healy, the government’s Housing Minister who said, speaking on BBC’s Radio 5 Live, “In some cases there is no way round that and in some cases it is the best thing for the people who are struggling with these mortgages.”
Given the opportunity to clarify, he repeated: “Sometimes it is impossible for people to maintain the mortgage commitments they’ve got … it may be the best thing in those circumstances.”
Mr Healy’s comments, whether right or wrong, have caused a certain degree of controversy with many accusing him of being out of touch, one thing is for sure, his comments will be of little comfort to those people who have lost their homes.