Swift Advances plc has given the following statement to Panorama
"Swift Advances plc ('Swift') is a second charge lender being the secured lending arm of Swift Group.
It serves the non-conforming market, meeting the needs of customers who are unable to obtain finance from 'mainstream' or 'prime' lenders.
This may be due to several different reasons including adverse credit and property type.
Its products are distributed exclusively through mortgage and finance intermediaries.
Quite often our customers have found themselves in previous financial difficulties through no fault of their own, eg divorce, separation, or illness.
Were it not for lenders like Swift Advances, these customers would face exclusion from the secured credit market and would have to use significantly more expensive unsecured credit to meet their needs.
Swift is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading ("OFT") for Consumer Credit Lending and is a member of the Finance Industry Standards Association (FISA) and works within its code of practice.
Swift is also a member of the following trade associations and subscribes to their codes of practice;
Finance and Leasing Association ("FLA")
Consumer Credit Trade Association ("CCTA")
Swift applies rigorous underwriting criteria to each application.
We limit the amount a customer can borrow to no more than 75% of the value of the property and carry out affordability checks to ensure the loan repayments are within the customer's means.
It is not in our interest, nor the interest of our customers, to lend anyone more than they can afford to repay.
Nevertheless, payment arrears in the non-conforming sector are higher than in the prime market.
If a customer falls into difficulty, we apply an arrears and possession policy which reflects the requirements of the debt collection guidance issued by the OFT and the FLA code.
As at 31/08/07, Swift had a customer base of 20,800 customers with an average balance of £26K and had taken possession of 108 properties during the year, equal to 0.52% of the number of accounts.
The obtaining of an order for possession does not inevitably lead to possession itself as the customer is almost always given a further opportunity to avoid this by repairing the arrears with a new payment programme under the terms of the court order.