The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has produced a wish list of measures it would like the government to introduce in support of homeownership ahead of the pre-budget report.
Calling on Labour to increase support for mortgage borrowers who fall into payment difficulties and renew its commitment to sustainable home-ownership, the CML says the government must introduce measures to improve the safety-net for home-buyers and minimise the numbers of arrears and repossessions.
The CML says more than half the UK's poor are home-owners, but the government's safety-net measures are strongly tilted towards people in other forms of tenure.
It says one way the government can redress this balance is by increasing the £100,000 maximum mortgage sum eligible for income support for mortgage interest. The threshold has not been increased since 1995, so the overall level of support available for home-owners is currently at its lowest level for over 20 years.
This is set against a backdrop of increasing repossession orders. Earlier this month the DCA revealed there had 34,626 mortgage possession actions entered at the country courts in the third quarter of this year alone and a total of 24,017 orders made - 11,603 of which were suspended.
The CML's own figures - published twice a year - also reveal a sharp rise in repossessions. In 2005 there were a total of 10,310 repossessions although this figure seems certain to be eclipsed by the number of repossessions this year. In the first six months of 2006 there had already been 8,140 repossessions.
The current structure for the payment of stamp duty is also in need of reform, says the CML. It calls the current system inefficient and claims it undermines the government's efforts to get would-be home-owners on to the property ladder.
And the CML is calling on the government to ensure there are enough energy assessors to deliver the energy performance certificate part of home information packs. It argues any delay leading to a shortfall in the number of assessors could impact on the delivery of the packs and ultimately have a negative effect on the market.
The CML says the possibility of market disruption next summer has been compounded by delays to the dry run of home information packs. It argues it will be difficult to assess the result of any testing of the Hips structure before the go live date and says the absence of clear criteria for the monitoring or evaluating of the dry run means that it is difficult to know whether Hips will achieve their aim.
CML head of research and information, Bob Pannell, says: "Home-ownership is far and away the most popular tenure in the UK. But it is surprising that at a time when the government is promoting the wider benefits of home-ownership, the safety-nets it has in place to help struggling home-owners are being neglected."
"We strongly urge the government to demonstrate its commitment to sustainable home-ownership by reviewing how the benefits system helps home-owners who find themselves in difficulty."
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