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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 14:42 GMT
Elderly homeowners remain trapped
By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Bank of Scotland branch
Bank of Scotland customers are angered by the lack of progress
Around 8,000 Bank of Scotland customers who are trapped in their homes seem to be no closer to being offered any help.

Customers with Shared Appreciation Mortgages have to pay their lender 75% of the increase in value in their home when they sell.

Barclays set up a scheme for its customers last summer.

Talks continue between HBOS and campaigners, but the bank now says there is no certainty that a solution can be achieved.

Assistance

Barclays finally began to offer some financial assistance in June. Marie from Hampshire is one of 54 people who have so far been offered help. She's 79 and disabled and she'd like to move to a more suitable house.

Marie took out a shared appreciation mortgage in 1998 in order to release £40,000 to help her family.

I just want Bank of Scotland to come up with something very similar, very quickly
Elaine Williams, Struggle Against Financial Exploitation Ltd

If she sold now, she would have to pay Barclays around £220,000, more than half her equity. That would leave her too little to buy a house more suited to her needs.

A move now seems possible and Marie told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme she feels relieved:

"I feel that I'm not stuck in a situation where I can't move one way or another. At least Barclays is trying, and I'm very grateful for that."

The deal she's been offered means Marie will have to pay back the money she owes Barclays, but this will give her an interest free loan of up to half the value of the more suitable property she wants to buy.

There are no repayments, the loan is paid back when she dies.

The story is very different for Marie's neighbour, Earnest. His Shared Appreciation Mortgage is with Bank of Scotland.

Like Marie, his deal gained him £40,000 in 1998. But if Earnest sold now, he'd have to pay Bank of Scotland around £250,000.

Hardship

And with no help in sight from his bank, Earnest and his wife have no hope of moving. He's angry that Bank of Scotland haven't yet offered anything to its customers:

There is no certainty that a solution acceptable to both Bank of Scotland and SAFE can be achieved
Bank of Scotland

"I would have thought Bank of Scotland would have been very anxious to join Barclays in some kind of alleviation of the hardship which has been caused."

Bank of Scotland told Money Box in June that it was studying the Barclays scheme "closely" and "with interest." Since then Bank of Scotland has met with the campaigning group Struggle Against Financial Exploitation Ltd (SAFE) three times but has yet to offer any deal.

In a statement Bank of Scotland said:

"These discussions are still at a very early stage.  There is no certainty that a solution acceptable to both Bank of Scotland and SAFE can be achieved."

SAFE's director Elaine Williams says the bank needs to act now:

"We're waiting now for the date of the next meeting. I just want Bank of Scotland to come up with something very similar, very quickly."

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 1204 GMT.

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SEE ALSO
External internet links
18 Jan 08 |  Moneybox
Help for people in mortgage trap
16 Jun 07 |  Moneybox
What Bank of Scotland say
30 Aug 02 |  Moneybox

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