On the danger of financial problems facing South Holland residents, as reported by Shelter – with the contingent risk of homelessness – I would commend the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for their advice, urging people to seek help as soon as possible.
Whilst not wishing to understate the problem I note, however, that they comment that we have not seen a huge increase in the numbers threatened with repossession, and that the real problems will come when interest rates rise.
Fortunately these seem to be staying at historically low rates for longer than was previously thought.
Indeed your own ‘Money Matters’ expert notes that “the outlook for borrowers is more positive for the months to come”. We must hope that he is right in the interest of mortgage holders.
When problems do take place South Holland District Council’s excellent homelessness and housing advice team is there to help.
When lenders seek possession orders they now have a duty to notify our housing team, who write to all clients in response.
There are then a number of ways (for example, by our repossession prevention fund or support for mortgage interest) by which we can dramatically increase the chances of saving the occupier’s home.
We are pro-active in attempting to prevent homelessness and work closely with all the agencies in this arena. In the past year alone we have prevented approximately 406 households from becoming homeless (in the first quarter of this year the figure is 62) through our direct intervention.
There is help for householders with financial problems not only from ourselves but from the National Homelessness Advice Service as well as the excellent local Citizens Advice Bureau, but facing up to problems in the early stages is vital to ensure the best chance of a successful outcome.
COUN Christine Lawton
Portfolio Holder/Housing Landlord
South Holland District Council