Thursday, April 09, 2009

Deputy First Minister Sturgeon avoids questions on giving homeowners more protection from repossession

Amid yesterday’s BBC television programme on home repossessions in Scotland, you’ve got to wonder whose side the Scottish Government are on when they can’t even give Scottish homeowners more protection against lenders repossessing their homes … (obviously on the side of the banks & lenders, not homeowners – Ed)

The Press & Journal report :

Sturgeon ‘burying head in the sand’

Call for scottish homeowners to get more protection against repossession

By Tim Pauling

Published: 09/04/2009

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was last night accused of “burying her head in the sand” over home repossessions amid calls for Scotland to adopt the same protection for homeowners as England and Wales.

It followed claims on a BBC TV programme last night that 7,500 Scots face losing their homes this year.

The show found homeowners in Scotland are more at risk from aggressive lenders because of the failure to adopt pre-action court protocol, which forces lenders to negotiate with borrowers before taking them to court.

This had cut repossessions by half since it was introduced last year, according to the programme.

In November the Liberal Democrats, Labour, Green parties and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald unsuccessfully called on the Scottish Government to adopt similar measures.

Labour health spokeswoman Cathy Jamieson said more needed to be done because the government’s mortgage to rent scheme had only helped 150 people.

“Homeowners in Scotland deserve the same protection from repossession as those south of the border,” she said. “Nicola Sturgeon is burying her head in the sand.”

Lib Dem housing spokes-man Jamie Stone accused Ms Sturgeon and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill of “turning a blind eye”.

He said: “This programme proves the opposition parties were right last November to launch a joint campaign urging the SNP government to change the law and give Scottish homeowners the maximum protection from the threat of repossession.”

But a Scottish Government spokeswoman called the opposition claims “ridiculous”.

“The Scottish Government is taking extensive action to help homeowners in the current economic climate and we are far ahead of the game compared with the situation south of the border, having had mortgage rescue schemes in operation for several years,” she said.

The Mortgage Rights (Scotland) Act gives owners a right to ask a sheriff to give them time to pay off arrears, while Scottish courts also have the flexibility to award costs.

The Home Owners Support Fund has also been increased to £35million.

The spokeswoman claimed that the pre-action protocol in England and Wales had “no significant legal effect” and questioned whether it had led to a 50% cut in the number of repossession cases going through the courts.

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