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Government needs to deliver support for struggling households

The BSA welcomed the announcement made by the Prime Minister in June that homeowners in financial difficulties will be able to claim the support for mortgage interest (SMI) loan after 3 months, rather than the current 9 months – something we’ve repeatedly called for.

Shortly before the Prime Minister announced he was stepping down from his role, he delivered a speech in Blackpool covering a wide range of policy issues. Alongside the Mortgage Market Review, he also announced a reduction in the waiting time for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

SMI is a Government loan to help home owners pay the interest payments on their mortgage, or other home loan, while in receipt of benefits. It offers those in temporary difficulties respite while they recover and is then repaid when the property is eventually sold.  The current 39-week waiting period for SMI payments to be made makes it hard for homeowners to use SMI to help support their ability to pay their mortgage. The BSA has been campaigning for a reduction in the waiting time to make it more effective, commissioning the Social Market Foundation to research the topic last year (link to research).

It’s now been seven weeks since the Prime Minister promised struggling homeowners that they will be able to get the SMI loan after 3 months, rather than the current 9 months. Despite the current contest for leadership of the Conservative party, the Government needs to deliver on this promise without any further delay.  Every day many families are struggling to meet the rising cost of living. Household finances are under pressure from increases in their energy, fuel and food bills.  Providing access to the SMI loan six months earlier than it is currently available could help families to stay in their home, offering support before their financial position becomes too difficult to resolve.